Today is a time for me to acknowledge all the things I am thankful for in my life. And even though that might sound like an easy task—after all, I live in the most prosperous country in the world and I have a roof over my head and food in my kitchen—it’s actually not that easy when you get right down to it. I believe it is hard for me to adequately express thankfulness on a day-to-day basis because my normal life is filled with so much abundance. In order to feel really good about something, usually I need to feel bad about it first. After all, experiencing joy in life is all relative, isn’t it?
Einstein Was Pretty Smart
I’m not talking about Einstein’s theory of relativity here though, I’m talking about those times in my life where what I lived through was so unwanted that anything else would make me feel grateful. Being thankful…for me anyway…requires contrast. You have to have a few rainy days to better appreciate the sunshine. So from all the experiences I’ve been through in my lifetime, here are a few that offer the most contrast, and allow me to quantify my gratitude.
Hunger is no game
Last week, I experienced one of the joys of turning 50 when I got a specific test done to make sure my digestive system was not in danger of developing cancer (okay…it was a colonoscopy…which is just awful, BTW.) As my son told me, “I’ll be honest, my burning interest in medical nanotechnology has nothing to do with a half-baked dream of living forever, it’s entirely motivated by my desire to never have to get a colonoscopy.” Part of getting ready for that test was to be on a liquid diet for 24 hours. I had to go to Kroger for a few items and it hit me as I walked through the store with my stomach growling that day…rarely do I know what it feels like to be hungry! Today I am thankful for plenty of good, nutritious food, and also the financial means to make a donation to the Mid-South Food Bank.
Is it time for Wheel of Fortune yet?
My daughter is by my side today…happy, healthy and ready to go see Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2! Most days I tend to overlook what a blessing it is to have this angelic girl with me. Every day we get up, rush around to get to school or work, then come home and eat dinner and chill out until bedtime. Those normal days are filled with such amazing moments of ordinary that I don’t remember to feel gratitude for them. So let me contrast that with the long hard days she had in Shriners Hospital for Children St. Louis undergoing back surgery for scoliosis back in 2003. For 4 months she lived at the hospital and endured so much. Those weary hospital days from years past help me to appreciate the so-called normal days of today even more.
Hurricane Sandy type days with no electricity
Every day I get to charge up my iPhone, turn on hot water, brew coffee, watch TV, wash clothes, etc. The list is endless all because I have electricity! But I don’t even give it a second thought until it’s gone. I’m guilty of taking electricity for granted. Storm moving in? And the big game is on? It better NOT take the power out! Personally, I don’t see how the people in NJ and New York have handled the post Sandy aftermath as well as they have. Living with no electricity is seriously depressing. (I hope they all get back to normal soon.) So today, I am very thankful to have mine up and running. Thanks, MLGW!
Coming out of the political closet
It’s been two weeks since the presidential election and I am thankful that the country has shifted the debate about politics to other topics…like Thanksgiving dinner. But those last few weeks of the campaign really took its toll on me because I’m very empathic (which means I pick up on the feelings and emotions of other people like they are my own). The harsh words and divisive comments from both sides were hard for me to bear. To make matters more awkward, probably 99% of my close friends and acquaintances voted for the other candidate. Believe me, it was a really tough decision to make. In fact, Romney basically had me at “Hello” in the first debate…but lost me at “voucher”. My daughter receives SSI (Supplemental Security Income Disability). If that program shifted to the state of Tennessee (where over 7,000 disabled Tennesseans are on a waiting list to get support services) we would never see financial help again. And to be perfectly honest, we need that help. So today I am thankful for the friends and family that still love me even though I voted…okay I’ll say it out loud…Democratic. That’s right. I voted for President Obama in the general election earlier this month. (Please don’t hate me!)
It’s the most amazing iPhone yet
For the past seven months, my son has been living in Osaka, Japan as he continues to work on his graduate degree in International Business. That puts him about 6,816 miles from home! Of course, Caitlin and I miss him because he is so far away. The time difference itself (+15 hours…so if it’s 7am here, it’s 10pm in Osaka) is huge. But contrast that distance with the feeling of closeness we get to have with him when we FaceTime with him on the iPhone. We called him yesterday to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving (even though they don’t celebrate it over there) and he could have been in the next room! I’m thankful for my son…and technology that keeps him close even when he is far, far away!
You can get too much of a good thing
Yes, it is possible to lose heartfelt feelings of gratitude in the midst of so much abundance. But when we recall a time or two when things were more difficult, we can make today a fantastic celebration of all the blessings that fill our lives. As Victor Hugo so eloquently stated,
Sublime upon sublime scarcely presents a contrast, and we need a little rest from everything, even the beautiful.
Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving!