Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

One thing that we're kind of asked to do for this holiday is to think about all the gifts we have and be grateful for them.

My own thoughts often run along the lines of, "Why me? Why here? Why now?" Not in the desperate, hair-pulling sense, but more from the point of view of seeking a larger meaning of my life in my circumstances and opportunities.

The "now" part may be the most explainable: I haven't done the math, but I have to figure that, at least in the 6,000 or so years of recorded history, a good portion of all the people who've lived are alive today (I'm guessing about 10-20% of them). So, whether you believe that souls are reborn or just go around once, it's not that strange to be around now (and who knows about the future?) Still, I feel that, compared to most of those folks in most of those times, I'm very lucky to be alive at this time when so much seems to be at stake through how we conduct our lives (even if we haven't done all that well, so far, in terms of providing for the future of humanity).

Then there's the "here" part: Given that now's our time, certainly I'm lucky (about 5% chance) to be part of this American society, blessed as it is by our resources, our favorable climate, our abundance, our liberty. From what I have seen in my travels, I can appreciate these gifts: it's not so much that our lives' quality is so much better, but our opportunities are greater.

The "me" part is the trickiest. I'm one that believes that, while I have accomplished some things through perseverance and occasional insight, I don't really deserve all that much credit. I wasn't born wealthy or anything like it, but my advantages have been many, and I didn't do all that much more than--for the most part--utilize them, rather than waste them.

I'm also not one of those who has always known what I was born to do; even now, I'm not sure I will ever know that (until, of course, that day may come when I know that whatever I've done was all that I was ever going to do). I figure the best I can do is learn what I can, be open to the possibilities, try and hold on to a little wisdom and judgement, and do the right thing when those critical occasions (or maybe, some particular occasion) may come before me. The role model is someone like Gerald Ford (!), who found himself President though he had never sought national elective office, and did the best he could (and it wasn't that bad, really) when he got there.

Of course, there are those substantial things like the family I grew up with, the family I have now, the friends I've made, my loves, my jobs, my homes, my entertainments. All of which have been excellent, or even better than that.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, although there is much I don't understand, I know enough to see that I have much for which to be grateful.

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