Thursday, October 08, 2009
As we approach Turkey Day here in Canada, my thoughts turn to giving thanks. After all, this holiday started for both Canada and the US as a way for those starving, lost souls in the New World to show appreciation to the natives for their help in ensuring that this winter was going to be so much better than last winter. Of course, the natives were only part of the thanks - most went to the current God in favour at the time but, in my own, secular way, I prefer to see it as a thanks to real people for what they shared and sacrificed.
And so, we celebrate Thanksgiving. And what a celebration it is too! Turkey and ham and potatoes and yams (well... no candied yams - not north of the 49th anyway!). Pumpkin and apple pies. The bounty of the recent harvest all turned into delectable foods spread across a groaning table waiting to be turned into groaning adults with their belts undone.
This year, thanks giving means so much more than it ever has before to me and has nothing to do with the bountiful harvest or the helpful Indians. I've accomplished some pretty amazing things this year and the most important of all of them was that I finally got happy.
I am grateful for the source of my happiness: inside of me is a calm understanding that people, all people, are trying hard to get down this road called life. We are all worried that someone else sees our weaknesses so we try to show only our strength. We all compare the tangle mess of our insides to the seeming perfection of someone else's outsides. We are all worried about the next paycheque and how far it'll go; the melting of the glaciers and the polar ice caps and how life will change for all of us when the ocean's begin to rise; about that lump under our arm that we didn't notice last week; about our kids and their kids and our parents and our friends. We get up in the morning with too much to do and go to bed every night feeling like we didn't get enough done. We eat a pint on haagen dazs before bed instead working out as planned and wake up at 3:30 in the morning convinced that our heartburn is esophageal cancer and, while we're planning our funerals, we berate ourselves for not doing more exercise. We are all just getting through this maze called life one day at a time.
So, I have learned these past years but have fully embraced since recommitting to a healthy lifestyle on Oct 19, 2008 that we are all doing a life and it ain't easy. Thus, I am grateful for what bits and pieces people do offer me. Whatever their personal story, whatever their background - it's an effort to DO A LIFE and anything left over that someone is willing to share with me, I am truly grateful for it.
Ultimately, this means I look for the good in people despite the difficulty in finding it some days. I forgive people who hurt my feelings. I forget about the little irritants like being late for a coffee date or neglecting to call on important dates. I look at people with an new appreciation for what they may have had to overcome to get as far as they have in life. I don't compare my inside to anyone else's outside - not a fair fight. I say thank you. I acknowledge people's efforts. I've stopped rolling my eyes at the over loud cell phone user on the morning train. I don't expect everything to be done as I, myself, would do it. I pick up the litter of others. I've stopped muttering nasty words under my breath at the behaviour of others. I look homeless people in the eye when I say no to their panhandling requests.
These are NEW things for me - just like choosing apples over chocolate and running over napping - I am learning new behaviours. Just like I get up every morning and choose to spend the day making healthy choices for my physical self, I also get up and decide to make the kinds of behavioural choices that support my mental and spiritual health.
For this ability, I give thanks.