In the 14 days leading to Thanksgiving 2016, I felt a need to find something to be thankful for daily. Maybe it was the difficult atmosphere post-elections; maybe it was simply the change of seasons. At any rate, here are the daily thanks which were also posted to Facebook. 14 of them plus one for Thanksgiving day itself.
Day 1: Today I am thankful for the beauty that exists in the world. In nature, in divinity, in mankind, in simple acts of kindness, in art, in all that we do while having pure intentions at heart. Sharing with you the beautiful Dewi Sri, the Indonesian Rice Goddess. Beautiful not just for her features but also for her kindness, she is the mother of the Balinese people, and her presence protects us from hunger, while offering helpful advice to those in her care.
Day 2: Today I am thankful for our veterans. Here in the USA and all over the world. What does it mean to be a soldier? I have been one, once, a long time ago. It means you are called for duty, whether you agree with the cause or not. It means trying to preserve your values, while facing horrors no man should be made to endure. It means a sacrifice, large or small. As we take our way of life for granted, our liberty and freedom, it is time to take a minute or two and just reflect how different things could have been if not for the people who made a sacrifice. Thank you.
Day 3: Today I am thankful for tolerance. Facing what seems to be a huge divide in our nation, I am reminded that it is not as large of a gap as some previous generations struggled with. There is much more acceptance today than there was sixty, fifty and even twenty years ago. We have come along way. No one presidency is going to make it disappear overnight. I also believe that much of Trump’s election rhetoric was just that, rhetoric; and now, with a nation to lead, there will be more reaching out to connect rather than to rift. Yes, there are hate groups out there who feel like they won a victory. I trust they will soon have a rude awakening. Between the buzz on social networks and a larger mixed population, it is a different country today than it was years ago. Let’s hate them a little less, and feel compassion for people, who rather than face their own issues, blame others. I love my fellowmen, even if I don’t always agree with them. When leaves fall, they display a full range of color. So do we, humans. Tolerance is about accepting the different shades, and how each resonates with its own beauty.
Day 4: Today I am thankful for forgiveness I have learned firsthand that one must first learn to forgive oneself before forgiving others; and that it is not always as obvious as it seems. Meditation may help, as well as opening the heart for lessons that need to be learned; some more difficult than others. But without true forgiveness, it is impossible to move forward. Those we don’t forgive become weight that hold us back, drag us down. Letting them go through forgiveness is an amazing, life-changing, lifting experience.
Day 5: Today I am thankful for patience I too love quick fixes and immediate gratification. What can I say, guilty as charged. Yet, over these past few years, I have learned to appreciate that some good things can only flourish by waiting patiently. An Israeli singer once said, You cannot hurry (the frying of) French fries. Healing takes time, relationships of substance can only be built over time, developing muscle and mind flexibilities, changing old habits, writing a novel – and the list goes on, all take time. And while instant gratification is, well, gratifying, the rewards ripped with patience are long-term and, ultimately, more delicious. Patience; it’s a lost art worth reviving.
Day 6: Today I am thankful for fear I used to view fear in a negative way; as most of us do in the Western culture. In my mind, it was but an emotion expressed in cowardice. Then I discovered how emotions are viewed with respect to the ancient 5-elements, and that changed my perspective. Fear is an emotion dominant with a water personality. When available in the right measurement, fear is a great teacher. It instructs me in what not to do. It also pushes me to the edge of my envelop, requires me to draw courage, challenge myself. When imbalanced in too large of a quantity, fear can immobilize a person. That is the negative aspect of this emotion. Only when I learned to accept fear as part of my personality, I was able to use it to my advantage. I am therefore thankful for this wonderful fierce teacher.
Day 7: Today I am thankful for yoga I stumbled upon yoga, much by what seemed at the time pure chance; some sixteen plus years ago. As Soren Kierkegaard once said, "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." I can now see that my encounter with yoga was not random. Yoga instructed me on how to further open and flex my mind; let alone the wellness blessings that my yoga practice bestowed upon my body. As I am nearing my 52nd birthday, I feel better in my body today than I did in my mid-thirties. Yoga is truly a gift given to humankind by the Gods.
Day 8: Today I am thankful for music Music has a way of averting the rational mind, directly accessing emotions and spirit. I love listening to music, I delight in creating music, I rejoice in sharing the experience of music with others. Music is truly Yoga for the soul.
Day 9: Today I am thankful for pain Who likes pain? Maybe I have a few masochist friends on Facebook, but, for the most part, it is safe to presume none of us do. Yet, some of the most profound moments of learning in my life have been through pain; physical, emotional and spiritual. Not for no reason there’s the idiom of growing pains. While it is not the only way to grow, some of us, myself included, insist on learning the hard way… That reminds me of a Marines’ T-shirt that read: Pain cures stupid. Thus, while never consciously intended, pain, when sprung upon me, is something I aspire to embrace. When it arrives, rather than dread it, I am realizing that, in short order, a lesson is to follow.
Day 10: Today I am thankful for smiling When we smile; but fully smile, not only our mouth takes part in the action. A real smile includes our eyes; the entire face. The body relaxes and our posture improves. But wait, it doesn’t stop there. The facial smiling muscles that contract, send a positive feedback loop that returns to the brain and reinforces a joyful feeling. Smiling reduces stress, produces positive emotions and improves our health. It creates an aura of happiness around us, felt even by those who are down. And it makes us look more attractive. For these reasons and more, I practice smiling often, even when it is the last thing on my mind. And, as someone in India once said about laughing yoga, When you don’t feel like doing it, fake it, fake it, until you make it…
Day 11: Today I am thankful for family Close family and the expanded one. Some days I cannot stand them; other days, I am thankful for this gift. To my kids who taught me that what I do matters; that I cannot say one thing and do another. I educate by example. What they see, they do. To my mom who continues to teach me patience. Listening to her on the phone can be a serious test for my endurance. After all, as the joke goes: what is the difference between a Jewish (or plug any other heritage) mom and a terrorist? With a terrorist, you can negotiate. To my dad for the values and skills he imparted to me before departing this world. To my brothers who came to my aid when I needed them. And to the rest of the expanded gang. Thanks. (p.s. the kids photo is from quite a few years back)
Day 12: Today I am thankful for friendships So many friendships. Some run deep, and likely span many lifetimes; some have only recently sprout. As the saying goes, “A friend will joyfully sing with you when you are on the mountain top, and silently walk beside you through the valley.” I feel lucky to have encountered all the people I did so far. There are no chance encounters. And I look forward for my path crossing many others still more. With love and gratitude. (p.s. the photo montage below misses many faces due to time and space constrains. Imagine it multilayered with many other faces on other pages of this friendship book)
Day 13: Today I am thankful for books A good fiction novel, can magically transport me to another realm; journeying alongside its characters, on a fantastic adventure. Often, I find that I love books even more than movies as, while reading, I can recreate the author’s world in my own image. I indulge in non-fiction as well; writings that educate, make me self-reflect and inspired. And, as a writer myself, I take pleasure of both worlds. What surprises me most when I write, is how the characters I ink into life, end up taking a form of their own, dictating to me what they will do next. How much emptier would my world be without the written word? Haaa…. So much more to read and write, so little time.
Day 14: Today I am thankful for my better-half Often I feel like I do not deserve her. She stuck with me at times a normal person would have let go. In other words – she is not normal… :-) Yes, we occasionally have issues. Who doesn’t? As the phrase goes, it takes two to tango. Yet we always seem to find a way to continue dancing on, together. She helped me grow. She tells me what I don’t always dare admit to myself. She fully supports me, whether through a meltdown, or when I wish to spread my wings and fly. In some mysterious manner, one I cannot rationalize, this works. And thirty plus years later, through thick and thin, I still love her.
Day 15: Today I am thankful for the gift of giving I love being on the receiving end, yet time and again I am pleasantly surprised by how much better it feels to be the one giving. May the light shine on all beings, living and inanimate; May the light sparkle my family and friends; May the light illuminate my path, so that I may reflect it back onto others. May the light glow and radiate us all.