It’s American Thanksgiving today and for the entire month of November I have been surrounded by ‘Gratitude’. People have posted everyday about what they are thankful for on Facebook and Twitter. There was a gratitude challenge at my yoga studio. Just about everyday people offered the ‘intention of gratitude’ as a focus for their yoga practice.
So much damn Gratitude. I hated it all. I removed all of the ‘Gratitude challenge statements’ from my timeline, I stopped following people on Twitter, and I never, not even once, made a ‘I’m so grateful for…’ statement, on social media or in real life.
Why am I so Ebeneezer about this? Why am I not stating daily how grateful I am for the thousands of blessings in my life? Why am I not all dewy eyed about other people’s Gratitude?
Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.
Henry Van Dyke
To live your life with constant gratitude is a profoundly spiritual way to live. To be continually humbled by the innumerable blessings in your life, and to share them and to live to help others is one of the best aspirations we can have. To remain grateful in times of sorrow, heartbreak and frustration is the way to live through these difficulties with grace and equanimity.
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy
And there’s part of my problem with being ‘Grateful’ in November. It’s like children being well behaved in December for Santa. It’s a show. It’s fake. It’s not real. It’s pretending to be something for a short while. Making gratitude statements in November cheapens and trivializes gratitude. It’s not something that we list in November up to Thanksgiving and then drop on Black Friday and start shopping. Living in gratitude is how we should be living every moment of everyday. If you are reading this blog you are one of the most fortunate people on this planet. You can read, you have access to a computer, you very likely have more than enough food and somewhere safe to live. We take so much for granted. Our homes, our health, our safety. Everything is a gift. I love David Whytes poem about, well everything
Everything is Waiting for You
Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
— David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You
©2003 Many Rivers Press
To be grateful for the soap dish, for the window latch, for the pots is to acknowledge you are part of something bigger, so much bigger and grander than yourself. That you are not alone, but part of the greater community, that the world is open to you and that everything is waiting for you.
So today. Today, I am grateful. Today, I know I am part of something greater and more fundamental than myself. Today I am grateful to feel that love as the greatest gift that is bestowed upon me and one that I send back out to the world.