Thursday, November 27, 2008


It is Thanksgiving. This has always been an important day to me. I always said that it was more important to me than Christmas--lower key, quieter, reflective.

As I was thinking about this post, though, I started to think about this exercise of expressing gratitude...and like anything, its kind of become just that--an exercise.

Put me on the spot and ask me what I am thankful for, and I almost invariably say the same thing: family, friends, health. Nothing wrong with being thankful for those things. But, it is a pat answer, and rarely the result of any real, hard thinking.

And you know what...its ironic, but by saying those things, I am saying I am most thankful for the things I most take for granted. To be fair, its been a long time since I lost a close family member, and my health is good, so maybe I'm not as thankful for it as I should be for those things.

People are also often told to be grateful for everything they have, because many people have it a lot worse. And, obviously, that's true. But any person on earth could say that. It represents something that's true, but doesn't reflect any insightful thinking. Its cheating your way out of the question, in my book.

I've been thinking hard about what I am thankful for--really and truly, digging deep. Is there something in there?

True gratitude is for things that were given to you. Gifts. Things you didn't earn. They may be things you took advantage of, things you made the most of. But they are things which were given.

It is now a quiet moment. The world is just still. Here is my thanksgiving:

  • I'm thankful I grew up in an educated environment and that I was able to get a good education. If there is any way to sleep in today's world, its because if you have an education, you have at least a shot at security.
  • I'm thankful for people giving me chances along the way. Those diverse opportunities have made me the person I am today.
  • I'm thankful the universe is forgiving. I didn't always get what I deserved, didn't always receive the full consequences for my human sins and failures.
  • I am thankful that people along the way touched me when there was nothing in it for them.
  • I am thankful for whatever forces have come together in my life to give me a soft landing this year. My life was crashing. Through a combination of forces that I may never understand, I found a place--and the people around me found a place--for a safe landing. Though I may never understand, I am grateful nonetheless.
We focus on ourselves because that is the only element we can control. But friendly winds and soft terrain aid us along the way. Without them, the trip might be more difficult, or it might be impossible. Today, I am thankful for all that has helped me.

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