In honor of Thanksgiving, I’ve made a list of things that I’m thankful for, as well as things I'm learning. It’s broader than the typical list because I wanted it to encompass absolutely everything. Here is my list, in no particular order. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
When I was younger, I took family for granted. As I’ve gotten older, I’m learning that just because someone is technically related to you, doesn’t mean they want to have a relationship with you. Many times, this really can’t be helped. You’ve been thrown into the same family by destiny and the rest can’t be helped. I’m learning to appreciate my family members with all of their flaws. A grown-ups we create families of our own, and they are flawed, but dear as well. Every one of us is human, after all.
I am learning that friendship is fluid. On the journey of life, friends come together and drift apart. Some friends drift into your life and then back out again, based on circumstance. Other friendships stand the test of time, and most likely you will drift together and apart, like waves on the ocean. It’s all ok; all these friendships are valuable, each in their own way. I am thankful for them all.
Change is not my forte. I am learning that no matter how I resist it, some things are going to change no matter what I do. I can cry and resist and carry on, or I can let the wave of change take me away from what I knew, and drop me off in a new land. I might not like it as much as the old land, but it is not my choice. If I accept this, I can adapt to just about anything. Like a tree in the wind, the more I am able to bend, the less likely I am to break.
I am learning that positivity is a gift. I work with someone who is, as I like to call him, a glass half empty. I sarcastically joke with him that he just needs to look on the bright side. He responds by calling me a Pollyanna. I say that it’s all in the perspective. He says, “but I’m a realist.” I say that we are both looking at the same glass, with the same amount of water in it. He calls the glass half empty, but I choose to call it half full.
Good health is another thing many of us take for granted. It needs constant nourishment to sustain itself, and I’m also learning that it’s interrelated with all of the above.
Many of us Americans long for jobs we find fulfilling. We want to do, as Oprah says, “what we LOVE” Well, no offense, Oprah, but I’ve learned that not everyone can LOVE what they do. But we can find things to love about what we do, and we can appreciate the usefulness of it... and the freedom that employment give us. For example, I appreciate that my job gives me a nice steady salary that allows me to pay my bills, interact with other people, and allows me the time to be a mom who can be there for her kids... all important things that are not to be taken lightly.
I’ve learned that not everyone has it. Everyone can nurture it in themselves, but when it’s naturally present in abundance, it is a true gift. While everyone doesn’t need it for a happy life, most people want it. When you’ve got it, I think it’s your duty to use it to make people happy. You should use it to make people smile, appreciate life, others, and what it means to be human. Creativity should be used for good and not for evil; it’s a gift and a responsibility. I’m learning to use my creativity more freely, share it more often, and appreciate it every day.
Experience is the secret weapon of age. I appreciate it as only a person with some life experience can. As we age and our bodies show their wear and tear, our experiences only become richer and more nuanced. While our stories were short and sparse when we were younger, now they are long and interesting. I am learning to keep my mouth shut when someone with less experience tells me something as if they know the Complete Answer - they need to arrive at their own more nuanced conclusions on their own, in their own time.
“I don’t know if I believe in God, because I’ve seen no concrete evidence that there IS a God,” a friend once told me. “Well, if you had evidence, then you couldn’t call it faith, then, could you?” I replied. I don’t know the facts. I don’t know who is correct and who is not, I only know that I believe. It is logical to me, even though this logic is not based on traditional logic. I believe because it seems right to me, I feel its rightness. I don’t have any empirical evidence, I just know it, and my knowing says, how could it not be so? I am thankful for my faith, but I am learning just because I don’t want to push my views on others, doesn’t mean that they do’t want to push their beliefs on me. This is true of religious as well as secular beliefs. Some people think they know better than the rest of us. I’m learning to take a deep breath, and listen with an open mind. I just hope they learn to do the same.
This moment is the only one we can live in. I’ve heard some version of this phrase for my whole life, but over the years, it’s taken on more meaning for me. (see Experience, above). The past is done, and unchangeable. The future is a question mark. The only time we have is this time... right NOW. In each and every one of my This Moments, I have choices. I can make good choices or bad choices. If I live each moment independently of the other moments, then I can make changes in an instant (see Adaptability, above). If I take each moment separately and independently of every other moment, then I have before me, a wealth of possibility.