Some years ago, when I was working hard at changing one of my more ill-advised life habits, a gentleman far wiser than myself (yes, even then, I suppose there were times I wasn’t the smartest guy in the room) pointed out to me that until I let go of my resentments and developed an “attitude of gratitude”, I was doomed to fail in my quest for self-improvement. At the time, it struck me as nothing more than clever drivel (it rhymed, so that made it clever and, by extension, infallibly true) and I remember wondering how in the world I could do such a thing when I had “clearly been dealt such an unfairly poor hand”. At the time, I had no concept of the power and truth behind that seemingly patronizing phrase – I “didn’t know what I didn’t know” – another one of those annoying phrases I later came to understand as a Great Truth. Ultimately, I muddled through with lots of guidance and a seemingly never-ending stream of the (still patronizing and annoying) Great Truths. In any event, either through the principle of osmosis or something more dramatic like Divine Revelation, the ideas finally found some fertile soil in the stubborn fields of my heart and mind and I found success in my venture.
Fast forward about 15 years and observe the fruit of those crops in action: After all, this IS my Thanksgiving entry and, above all, I want this forum to be always fresh and thought –provoking, if not simply entertaining. Therefore, I eschew the idea of simply providing a list of “the things/people I am grateful for” as it strikes me as far too predictable to pass my “trite-O-meter” test. Besides, it practically goes without saying we are all grateful for our parents and loved ones, not to mention candied yams and roast turkey. My List of What I am Thankful For would undoubtedly have a slightly edgier feel: for instance, I am thankful that I live in a country where police and political corruption is a headline and not an accepted way of life.
That being said, allow me to share an example of the principle in action as my Thanksgiving offering.
I work part-time at an extremely popular theme park in Southern California (OK, I know that’s a pretty obvious reference, but I am loathe to name names since I don’t really know what I’m doing here from a legal perspective and I can’t afford to hire an attorney – best to play it safe-you’ll just have to fill in the blanks). In any event, this theme park is so popular that, at times, it’s necessary to give over a portion of the employee designated parking to accommodate the large guest turnout. We are provided with an alternate parking location during these times but it requires a longer shuttle ride to and from work, along with a lengthy and frustrating search for my vehicle in an ocean of parked vehicles after work is through – factors that tend to wind up my “resentment factor” fairly tight. In an effort to avoid these things, I have taken to parking my car in a relatively safe place off site on these occasions and simply hoofing it the extra quarter-mile or so. Recently, as I was nearing the end of this trek (and cranking up the resentment meter as tight as it could go), I passed by several homeless folks stretched out on the bus stop benches in front of the park, then turned a corner and watched several folks roll out of the handicapped transport on their way to visit and enjoy the park. As I walked on, the coils of the resentment meter slowly began unwinding and I found my grumblings replaced with two thoughts:
- I should be glad I have a job to go to – after all, I slept in a comfortable bed last night…..and,
- I should also be glad that I can “hoof the extra quarter of a mile” to work
I suddenly felt like the Grinch must have as his too-small heart expanded to full size and beyond. Grumblings gone, I arrived at work that day with an attitude of gratitude – perspective is an amazing thing, isn’t it?
List or no list – I AM grateful for my readers and want to wish everyone (even those who are NOT my readers) a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving – whatever you are most grateful for, remember to be grateful more often than once a year-it can be an attitude (if not life) changing experience.
BTW, the background image for today’s post is a reflection of what Thanksgiving actually commemorates – not Butterball turkeys and Grandmothers’ house, although the holiday has certainly come to be synonymous with those things, but Fellowship by Feast with the original title-holders of the New World (remember those guys? They were here first).