IT’S THANKSGIVING AGAIN, a holiday I wrote about last year. It’s so interesting to me (and probably only me) to see where I was then as compared to now. I had been through a lot and wanted to acknowledge progress I’d made and thank those who helped. This year, things are not quite so dramatic, thankfully.
This is a good holiday, one that’s easy to like. It’s about appreciation. Thank you.
A few good friends of mine commented that it seems strange to set aside a special day to give thanks since they do that every day. I try to do the same. Still, it can be a good reminder for all the folks who don’t have a daily practice of giving gratitude…which is, I think, most people. These are the people who will be shopping tomorrow.
I decided upon waking this morning to take a radical approach to thanksgiving and keep a running list of all of the things I am thankful for today. I had to abandon it around 90 minutes in because it was just too much. There is so much to be grateful for, writing it down almost made me late for my yoga class. You should try it sometime.
It’s not just the obvious things — friends, family, health, good food — but all of the intangibles that kept coming up that interested me: the support structure for my life that keeps it all humming along, almost unnoticed. We like to think we are solely responsible for all of the material happiness and successes in our life (and that others are responsible for the problems and failures), but it just isn’t so.
We humans are totally dependent upon each other, not just as helpless infants or as we near the end of our lives — that part is easy to see — but every day. Think about how many people, past and living, contributed to producing the energy and the systems required to keep our house warm. Who made our clothes? How is it that we can simply turn open a tap and fill a glass with water? How did our food get in that refrigerator? Who paved the roads that we use to get from one place to another?
Or get this: I can form these thoughts in my mind, these very thoughts you’re reading right now; translate them into a communications system we call language, tapping keys that correspond to letters on a keyboard; and create a digital record that, with the click of a single “Publish” button, then not only goes out automatically to my friends on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, but also becomes available for translation back to people searching the Internet all over the world. How incredible is that‽
And I didn’t do it myself. I had almost nothing to do with it. I certainly didn’t invent the technology or the language. Even the thoughts are not my own. They are the product of my interactions with people, dead and alive, who have shared with me the thoughts they formed based on their own interactions…and on down the line. (My fingers did tap the keys.)
As I look at the list I started this morning, there’s almost nothing on there that doesn’t result from the kindness of others, from my comfortable bed to Mona’s magic pills, my face lotion with UV protection to Changesonebowie and the stereo system it’s played on, my bike and my breakfast and the pen and paper I used to make the list.
So, thank you, David Bowie, and all of the other people whose names I don’t know. Thanks to the sun and the forces of nature that sustain this planet for today’s gorgeous weather. Thanks to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha for the gifts of refuge and wisdom. And, of course, thanks to my dear friends and family. (I would thank my pets, too, but they can’t read.) You provide me a very personal support system that gives my life happiness and meaning, without which I couldn’t do much.