Finding Gratitude in the Little Things

By Steve Dunn


I pretend to be annoyed by falling leaves. I grumble how quickly they cover the driveway, no sooner cleared away than oak and maple leaves drift breezily down in gentle defiance of rakes and blowers and bags. I bemoan the leaves above, still green, ensuring a long season of collection and disposal. We have a lot of trees. I spend long afternoons managing the leaf problem. I make sure the family hears of my service and sacrifice.


The truth is, I am thankful for the leaves. I love to use my leaf blower – one of those backpack models with enough horsepower to make me feel like a cyborg or superhero directing a mighty wind. I love rendering order from chaos. I delight in the contrasting before-and-after visions of a leaf-cluttered lawn and one freshly maintained. I love disappearing into my noise-canceling headphones for hours on end, a soundtrack of podcasts or Phish concerts accompanying my Very Important Work. 


Dealing with the leaves is a middle-aged professional’s meditation on all we maintain through the passage of time. We toil week after week, year after year, rendering order from chaos even as oak and maple leaves sprinkle down on our freshly cleared path. I am grateful to be seasonally reminded the real work is never finished. In the fall, I am thankful for the leaves.      



Steve spent his entire 20-year litigation career at one firm, the Charlotte employment law boutique Van Hoy, Reutlinger, Adams & Dunn. His clients ranged from individual executives to Fortune 500 companies in virtually every industry, including banking, education, manufacturing, technology, construction, marketing, motorsports, and public sector clients throughout North Carolina. Steve has extensive experience litigating all forms of employment discrimination in the North Carolina federal courts and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.