Today is Thanksgiving 2011, a day synonymous with Pilgrims, turkey and vague recollections of the first feast in the American collective unconscious. I started the day by hiking one of my favorite trails with one of my favorite people. During our hike, we helped reunite a lost dog with his family, met an old friend biking the trail who turned all the way around, biking an extra mile, just to say he was thankful for us. Students have been reaching out to me for the last week, expressing gratitude--and one previous student told me today she was thankful to me for being one of "the most influential and passionate teachers" in her life. And when I joined my family this evening for Thanksgiving festivities, my neice, a live-version of Seuss's Cindy Lou Who, gave me a running-hug exclaiming, "You're here!"
As I walked the gravel path today, the sun shining brightly in a bluer-than-blue sky, I felt so grateful...to be alive, to be walking, to be on the trail, to have and know love, to be mother to one and two thousand more, to hear the wind sing through the leaf-less trees, to have fought for my mortality--my humanity--earning my place among it.
It's a gift--being grateful. Not everyone is. Pity those people. And when you do, remember again how grateful you are.
Life is precious each day. But it's not every day that we're reminded to count our many blessings. Even if your life isn't exactly going the way you'd like, even if you've had immense hardships, even if you've suffered multiple cancers, disease and disability--even then--remember.
Being grateful, like the right to live, is actually a priviledge. We earn it. When you begin to take the world for granted, that's the moment you begin to lose just a little bit of yourself. For every instance of ingratitude, your heart beats a little slower. You may not even notice the change, but it's there. It's real.
Gratitude is an important part of living life fully. We all have full lives in the 21st century, but that doesn't mean we're really living. Living isn't about saving as much money as you possibly can before retirement. Living isn't about having the nicest car or most expensive home on the block. Truly living is about being mindful; and being mindful is all about gratitude.
My thanks goes out to all of you, my loyal readers, who believe in my words enough to take the time, energy and effort to read what I have to say. Your giving of yourself to participate in a steady existential-gaze is remarkably hopeful.
I'm grateful for that, too.