Saturday, January 4, 2014

And Now, Let Us Give Thanks

        Gratitude is the order of the day.  Life is full of challenges, and it’s our nature to dwell not on the good, but to focus upon the negative for whatever reason.   There's even a name for this phenomenon - it's called ruminating , and some psychologists believe there are valid reasons for it ( you can google it if you want).     Whatever it’s called, frankly, it reeks and I don't care to validate it.  But the truth is,  the older I get and the more pain, sadness and suffering I see, the more I realize how easy it is to be taken over by this destructive and useless “thinking.” 
       I’m in good company – look at  Mark Twain, a brilliant man who in his younger years possessed a sardonic, hilarious wit, and whose humorous and irreverent stories had the ability to entertain and poke fun at human beings (himself included) while simultaneously embracing and loving the very humanity of us.  He was able to make us laugh at our ridiculousness with a lovingkindness that was not only not threatening, but was often uproariously funny and even sometimes taught a lesson.  Sadly, he became quite cynical and depressed as he got older – a true curmudgeon in every sense of the word.   I understand how it can happen and I’m not judging you, Mark!  I just don’t want to suffer the same fate. 
          Which is why I’ve resolved to start and end each day with gratitude.   Today, for example, I’m flooded with a profound feeling of thanks which I’m going to take the time to express, enjoy, and hopefully pass on to you.  Don’t worry, I realize that often it can be boring to be subjected to someone else’s litany of thanks (even though it is undoubtedly helpful to remind oneself – often - of those specific people, ideas, and things for which we are thankful).
         Instead, I shall point out my gratitude for some things rather larger -  the infinite mystery of my individual existence, for one.  Think about it.  The fact that I exist at all is a miracle.  Despite our myriad differences, all our ancestors have one thing in common – they survived – at least long enough to reproduce – no mean task in the prehistoric, or even the civilized world.  And it led to each of us being here now.
       Too, all we know, all we have is built on the learning and knowledge even of our most distant ancestors – even Australopithicus had a hand in the invention of lasers, computers, and allergy pills (and in this season of cedar fever I give profound thanks for them!)  The deep understanding of plants and food sources which allows us to feed so many;  technology which has made the entire world instantly accessible; science and discovery that has made it possible for millions upon millions of people to survive infancy, all comes from millions of years of experimentation, luck, and knowledge passed down from generation to generation.  (And who knows how much we’ve lost, only to be re-discovered in the past/future!)
       The fact that I’m sitting here today, writing on this computer is a small miracle, to me.  I’m not going to analyze the reasons or to say something about justifying my existence - something that I’m often apt to do - not today.  Today I’m just going to let the gratitude for this realization flow through me and experience the joy of it.
        Then there’s creativity – an infinite amount of it - that exists in every one of us.  It expresses itself in an untold, immeasurable multitude of ways.  I’ve heard some people say that no idea is original; that everything that’s been said or created or made or done has already been thought of before.  It may be true, but to me that just illustrates the connectedness of all things – it’s a beautiful thought to know that somehow in this world of multiplicity, we’re each linked to each other through the same creative force.       
     And why such a premium on originality anyway, given the fact that we owe our very existence to constantly building upon the collective knowledge and experience of those who came before us?    Even if two people simultaneously come up with the very same idea on opposite sides of the universe, why does that compromise its usefulness, or the infinite number of ways it can be utilized, changed,  looked at - what difference does it make if it’s “new,” if it has the power to bring joy, comfort, connectedness or peace?
        I  have a knowing; a deep sense that each of us present on this planet comes from the same place, that we’re all connected to this creative, loving force that gives us all this richness and multiplicity.  Aside from all the interesting, exciting and deeply pleasurable opportunities it affords, it also makes me feel such an amazing feeling of joy. 
        And for the ability to feel that joy, I feel deeply, profoundly (Yep, you got it!)

                                                        Grateful. J