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What I’m Really Thankful For

As i expect most people did this week, I gathered with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, and as has been the case in many prior years, we took a moment to mention the things we were “grateful” for. The gathering was a mixture of immediate and extended family, as well as other friends of the host, so there was a range of people that I knew, knew well, and never met before. When it came to my turn, I made a minor joke about being thankful for the forthcoming end of Bush’s presidency, and followed it with a sincere but routine reference of being thankful for my family.

Although it’s true and I am definitely thankful for my family, my ‘attitude about gratitude’ goes deeper then I took the time or had the inclination to recite on a moments notice. I’ve had an opportunity to give it more consideration, so here goes.

When it comes to really considering what one’s grateful for, it seems you can’t do so unless you’re fading into unconsciousness after an unexpected car accident, facing the passage of a loved one, or going through some other traumatic life event that just ‘level sets’ your expectations and your priorities. in that context, I would not imagine It’s the success of closing a business deal, the recognition of athletic skills or material gains that garner gratitude. For me, with an earnest effort to give it due consideration, I consider these the things I’m most thankful for, in no particular order.

1. Life
It’s not like i’ve routinely faced death as some medieval warrior surviving the dark ages, but I’ve had one or more close calls and moments that could have gone another way and ended my life. Every day, in one way or another, many lives end without warning or preparation. How is it that we’re here and others that should have been, are not? Fortune? Fate? Random chance, or a greater plan? Whatever the case, just that I’m alive and able to give this consideration is perhaps the most essential gratitude I have.

2. Influences
I’m not inclined to believe that I came into this world with my views, opinions, interests and character in place and dormant, awaiting maturation. Rather, I expect that the person I am is a combination of numerous impressions and influences over a lifetime. Parents, close friends and passing acquaintances have all left behind pieces of a puzzle that has become my personality. There are a handful of people that have been my closest of friends or deepest of relationships, each of whom I consider to be a part of myself. In contrast, there are also a scattered number of people who’s presence had been but a passing or a distance one, yet they too left something behind in impression or character that stayed with me. When I stop to think of my friends today, those I’ve had over the many years, the numerous co-workers, loves, immediate and related family members, there’s so many that I know are directly responsible for me being, well, a compilation of them. I hope, in the near future, to spend a little more time capturing and highlighting their contributions as well.

3. Health
Sure, i’ve put on and need to lose weight, and I have the occasional ‘gerd’ issue, along with numerous other pains or ailments that come with age, weight, lack of physical activity or any combination of the above. But when I see individuals struggling with true health issues, from more common place ailments such as allergies or diabetes, to truly limiting conditions that restrict, constrain or completely inhibit motor skills, motion, dexterity, or that strike at one’s mental faculties, It puts it all into perspective. I’m definitely grateful to being fortunate enough to have my health, and I try to keep in mind that it’s not a guarantee, and it requires an awareness and effort to maintain it.

4. Opportunity
No matter how incensed I become over the inconceivable degree of deception and manipulation that lies without our political processes, ultimately, I recognize and appreciate that I am living in a country that allows me the freedom to say what I want, to create and pursue business opportunities, and a multitude of other freedoms we have on a daily basis. These are dreams of unattainable luxury to other’s living in far more impoverished or repressive conditions. I may need to worry about any number of things on a daily basis, but they don’t include wondering where my next meal will come from, how I might shelter my loved ones from the elements, fearing for the lives of family or myself when walking the streets, or concern about what I say, who I talk to, how I dress, etc. There’s definitely so many things in need of improvement in our country but I’m grateful for what we do have in comparison with many other nations, and in very real terms, within this nation as well. I’m fortunate. Very fortunate.

5. Perspective
Finally, I’m very grateful that i’ve made it to a stage in my life at which I can and do look back, look around, and look ahead with an awareness and an intend to improve and contribute. I, as I’m sure everybody does, have had my own stretch of being completely self absorbed and removed from the consequences of my actions. I called it my teens. And my twenties. Oh, yeah, and pretty much all of my thirties. But I like to think that i’ve matured enough to have reached a place at which I have a more centered and balanced perspective. I know and have a greater consciousness that the last breath I take may be shortly after completing this post, perhaps some time in the next few years when an unexpected ailment arrives with a grim prognosis, or hopefully it’ll be decades from now, as my razor sharp mind peacefully contemplates the last beat of my heart weakly pushing a slow and final surge of blood through the translucent surface of my aging and withering skin. In any event, with the strongest desire that I make it as long as possible in the best condition as possible, I don’t have any delusions about the time I have and the chance I have to make the most of it. So I try and keep a balance, making sure I take time to reflect and share my observations for posterity, making sure I leave as many positive [or, at least, as few negative] memories in my wake, and having a hell of alot of fun doing so. I feel good about my perspective and I’m thankful that I’ve made it this far.

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Written by gsm

11/27/2006 at 8:08 am

Posted in  Journal 

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