Updated: Nov 1, 2022
photo courtesy of @bcimagines
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
The idea of spreading and expressing gratitude during November is a tradition that has grown and shifted for me over the years. While it would be awesome to be fully present in a state of gratitude all year round, it just isn't as practical as we would think. There is a focused effect to this grateful feeling, to this state of thankful, especially as the holidays get going. The amplification of these feelings add to the positivity of the holidays, but possibly more importantly it adds to the impact of our internal connection to gratitude and to the people outside of our own selfishness we are thankful for. For me personally, it's an important reset and I try to keep this one thing at the heart of my holidays; find a way to genuinely connect to the people in my life and express genuine gratitude.
Today is the twentieth of November 2018 and I am grateful for every bit of this moment, but most of all for the people in it; few or many that they are. It is easy to forget that life is more choice than chance. My own life often lives me rather than the other way around. It can be a challenge to find the pieces of life that ground us, truly ground us in the world as it is and not the world that distracts.
Something that stands out as I get older is just how much being grateful, mindful, or aware, is a choice. A not so simple discipline, even a skill, once developed it can help calm the chaos even if it can't always keep it in the distance.
In the end no matter how hard we try; the world spins on faster and faster, so it will provide an ever tempting distraction we can't always keep track of.
Many times in the day, year, life - we simply do not know what we don't know.
For me understanding the concept of what I don't know, brought me to look for a way to center my perspective and bring my day to day into a more wholehearted focus, in the moment, rather than a retrospective of internal conversations, moments gone by or analytical thinking after the fact. To be more in each moment meant I have to have something I can hold onto, something I can breath into. I need something most of all to remind me of the outcome I choose to seek out in a situation not the one I might get pulled into. What I settled on after some reading and contemplation was this:
LISTEN | SHARE | LET IT BE WHAT IT IS
I started by working to deduce what I was fighting the most in my life. Not surprising to me that turns out to be what I think of myself. Outside perspectives towards me are mostly framed pretty well, but my own is dramatically skewed. So I decided to commit to a better state of listening to the stories and moments of others - get the focus off me as much as I could. My commitment became to listen and work to stay out of my own internal scripting as much as I could remember.
Then I spent some time feeling around for what I most sought out in my day. I discovered that what I enjoyed the most was being able to share - simply "share" when asked to do so. The stories of our lives are the best kinds of time travel and if we share with an open intention they help us stay better connected to those around us.
The hardest one of these three ideas I was woking to keep in mind turned out to be; letting things be what they are. Each of us, in one way or another slip towards an innate desire to push, manipulate, mold or convince ourselves of...anything. For me I needed to frame this idea more as "vision" than any kind of complacency towards an outcome. This developing vision allowing me a different way of listening to the world going on around me - listening to it as it actually "is" and not the expectation of what it should be.
As we really see whats in front of us, it's time to make a decision. Choose if "it" (whatever it is) is for us or not. A hopefully, informed decision based on the reality in front of us and not the expectations, should(s), or distorted perspective that sometimes comes with distraction, feeling overwhelmed, or just simple fear.
I am a part of the bandwagon these days saying; "life did not turn out the way I thought it would." Shocker. Far from any benchmarks, accomplishments or norms my life is...my life. And for me I got so much more than I bargained for - in great, amazing, people driven ways. My life became a discovery of how different life could be to what I was brought up to believe possible. Moreover, it was a discovery of what I "might" be capable of.
But even glancing at life that way fades if you aren't feeding it. Hope becomes disappointment. Optimism sours into bitterness. Chances at something new become bothersome. And the worldview you weren't intending to feed becomes the frame and dirty glass you again see the world through. So not surprisingly my own frame was all gunked up. So much so I don't even know what I am looking at good or bad in front of me. I am distracted by the gunk.
Could I take three minutes each day to wipe some of the gunk off the glass and again see some of what the world, universe, people had to "offer" and not what so much what they "don't"?
You see it's the people, the connections, the conversations you have in your life that shapes new chances or reinforces old ideas. Or at least that has been the overwhelming experience for me. So I try to remember the people whom bring out my best me, or maybe gave me a new chance to fail... or succeed. I think about the stories of these people, these moments, their connection to my own story or path and I reach out in gratitude. I reach out to wipe off some gunk.
These days I use my three minutes a morning to be grateful for the people in and out of my life. And in November I look for ways to reach out, reach back, connect for the simple act of gratitude. In the process it brings back the memories of why these amazing people were/are a part of my life and reminds me most of all that;
LIFE IS MORE CHOICE THAN CHANCE
Alright so it also reminds me of what was once possible and allows me to consider other things might be still.
I now work to be thankful for the smallest parts of my life most of all. Things like the smile from someone I don't know. Which triggers a smile on my face; maybe showing me I wasn't smiling. And it's that same smile now on my face as I hold the door for someone that jumps to another face that fills me up again. For me it always comes down to people and the big and small connections we share all day long - all along the way.
I suppose my point is no matter where I find my life these days or the days to come, the days past, are in the past. But gratitude is in the present and the ability to let go brings the present into intentional focus. The world will continue to change, spin, distract, hurt and help us all. The longer we are a part of this world the more past we have built up like gunk on the glass, but we also have the bright shinning lights of people to shine the way into the present and future.
So here is my challenge for us all. Step in front of the glass and leave the gunk behind, you don't need to see the frame to use the frame. And who knows maybe you need a new frame more often than you think. After all the world is moving so fast we need to adjust almost daily. So when your glass starts to get gunked up, recognize that the light of your path has changed and take another step in front of the frame. Put together a new look at whats in front of you and sketch in some of what you might like to see there.
No matter how poorly I built or maintained the many connections of my life - I am forever grateful for the people who have simply crossed my path and those whom walked along with me for a while. And it's in November that we all are reminded to be more aware, in tune, or plugged into gratitude in whatever form works best for us.
I choose to be grateful and I choose to walk forward.