Giving Thanks

There is much to be grateful for, yet often lacking is a sense of perspective. Unless we have traveled around a bit, we Westerners tend to take a lot for granted. Observing the lives of others in dire circumstances, whether within the boundaries of our own country or in distant lands, can feel surreal at times. Many are so inundated by media, whether it be through television or advertising, that we develop mental filters or wander around in a constant state of overstimulation. Either way, a certain amount of numbing is bound to exist within the average person. Taking time to deeply contemplate, whether it be through quiet walks in nature or during some other form of meditative experience, perspective begins to emerge. As we ponder the trees and sky and the age of rocks, we can’t help but find ourselves amazed at our place within the greater scheme of things. Conversely if we remain insulated with electronics being the sole means of connecting with others and the outside world in any significant way, our perspective is distorted and we lose our sense of place. We lose our sense of the sacred.

While routine is a human comfort, getting stuck in a rut creates inner disturbances that affect everyone around us. We all know the feeling of coming home too tired to do anything but “zone out.” When we take that tired mind and subject it to a video screen, our perspective becomes tinged with the reality presented to us through this medium. We all have a deep need to express something uniquely our own. But when we give away a great measure of our day in trade for wages sapping most of our energy in the process, there is little time left over for indulging creativity. As this becomes a pattern, we lose sight of our desires and our days blur together like the view from the window of a fast-moving train. In our frustration, we place blame outwardly for our condition. We curse our dead-end lot. We lose perspective. Then when guilt sets in, we may seek to assuage it through financial means, again feeding into the cultural consumerist trap.

When we drain our pocketbooks attempting to fill longing within, we are left empty handed as well as empty hearted. When we make time for expressing our unique, genuine selves, we feel more settled in our skin. We don’t have to pretend. This kind of peace has a price beyond measure. We no longer need things to make us happy. We begin to accept ourselves in the scheme of creation. This fosters self forgiveness when we fall out of balance. We can then more easily forgive others when they do not meet our expectations, for we see that they too have similar struggles. Perspective leads to understanding which leads to empathy and compassion. This helps us accept differences, whether between close relations or countries and cultures.

Marva Collins, famous for her work with Chicago’s troubled inner city youth, says, “Until kids decide, ‘I am a miracle. I am unique. There is no one else exactly like me,’ they can never draw the conclusion, ‘Because I’m a miracle, I will never harm another person who’s a miracle like me.'” This is perspective, pure and simple. We all lose it from time to time. Yet in becoming aware that it is within our power to alter our perspective, we create the potential for movement, growth, healing. We can soothe the raw places in our psyches and in our souls. We can mend fractured relationships. We can heal our world, one step at a time. Honoring other people and all forms of life, including the life-giving planet itself, ever begins with the self.

As we head into this holiday season, we may reflect deeply on what gifts mean most to us. Is their worth heavily skewed to the cultural ideal, money? Or do we measure the fullness of our cup with love, health and well-being, our relationships with partners, friends and family? Does our cup runneth over with clean air, clean water, space to move; the scent of pine or wood smoke in the winter? We can focus on what we lack or we can change our perspective to one of abundance by expressing gratitude for all we deeply value. We can be aware of our level of material wealth relative to others. We can choose, in whatever ways present themselves to us, to share with those less fortunate. We can keep our eyes open to the large and small sufferings going on around us and share from a heartfelt place. We can gather the lost and weary to our dinner tables. We can make or purchase gifts which reflect something abiding deep within us rather than frantically scrambling to gather masses of meaningless treasure. We can take time to connect to Mother Earth and offer prayers to heal humanity, that they in turn may realize how to live more sustainably on Her. We can feel the fullness of gratitude for our lives while becoming aware of whether our material abundance is contributing to or taking away from other countries, cultures, and even the planet herself. Let our offerings in thought and deed be genuine, remembering that others learn from our example more than they will ever learn from teachings we discuss but do not put into practice. Let our very most basic gift, that of life itself, continue to be a more pure expression of who we are, in all our unique glory.

(Note: I wrote this piece in 2000 for publication in The Maine Eagle. It has been edited for this post.)

Hilltop view of our ranch, New Mexico, USA

13 thoughts on “Giving Thanks

  1. Bela, a beautiful overview of the magnificent world we live in ….. if one can see.

    For Tubularsock this time of year brings out the best in Tubularsock with his simple benevolence of HATING EVERYONE EQUALLY.

    So, as Tubularsock see it, you and I are almost saying the same thing.

    Have a happy and peaceful season.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bela.. A profound post holding tons of wisdom and truths… We have been lulled into our brainwashed reality of ‘THINGS… which we seem to covet more than ourselves… We take So, so much for granted in our fast paced life of gadgets and labour saving devices..
    One has to first step outside our Western world to SEE how the other half lives, for real, not through the filter of a TV screen..
    One has to see the squalor, smell the stench in their nostrils.. See the children begging on the streets, people rummaging through rubbish to be grateful for all the little things we take for granted every day..

    And yet in certain cities around our world in the Western World… We walk on by the beggars and the bag ladies in the street.. as if we are blind…

    We have a lot of Learning yet me thinks Bela, in giving thanks…

    A wonderful eye-opening post my friend.. Enjoy your weekend.. ❀
    Much love Bela.. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your incisive comments, my friend. I’ve written poetry about street people, so they are definitely on my radar. One can’t avoid them in Santa Fe, there are beggars on every corner. And when they set up camps, invariably drugs or mental illness causes their encampment to get raided and they are evacuated. Back on the streets. Shelters are filled, and also dubious places to stay. No easy answers, but surely we can focus on them once in awhile and come up with better solutions.

      It’s funny that I wrote this article over 20 years ago, yet it remains more relevant today than ever. It’s why I decided to revisit some of those earlier pieces and re-post them here. Hopefully at least one person will benefit from them, and it will have been worthwhile.

      Love to you, dear one. Carry on! 😘

      Liked by 2 people

  3. A beautiful prayer. We need to spend more time away from our screens and with the living world around us. “Stop look and listen”–the lessons of childhood we seem to have forgotten. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

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