Just a Thought – Through Grief, An Abundance of Gratitude

That we have a national holiday dedicated to being thankful is something to be really thankful for. Taking the time to really count our blessings makes a difference in how we perceive our own lives and the world around us.

I am grateful to be alive. Having had a very close call this past September, I have been forced to recognize my mortality. There is a philosophy that death is what gives our lives meaning. We savor the moment, knowing that it will not come again.

To balance against that, we have our traditions; the seasonal points that we call holidays, and the many ways that we can use them to remind ourselves of the past and hope for the future. Serving the same food, wearing certain colors, listening to a particular type of music – all these things allow us to pretend that it is the same moment, come back to us again. Just as you can’t cross the same river twice – new water is always flowing – you never have the same holiday. Even with all the same people in the very same room, this year is different.

I was watching a documentary entitled “Griefwalker” about a minister who worked much more as a shaman, talking with people about death. The film maker had had a close call, and it was that experience which drew him to make the film, but the minister candidly  observed “You are not acting like someone who got their life back.”

The sentence really stuck me because I was, in fact, lying on the sofa watching a movie. That was not something I would have been doing six months ago.

Getting past that close call, the sense of relief is miraculous – ok, I am not going to die right now – the mind wants to just go back to the daily deeds and stop considering the end. Getting stuck – all over again – in daily life is the reason that people really don’t heal. In order to heal you have to change what you were doing that made you sick.

For me, jumping into a “bucket list” mentality would not serve either – what brought my underlying condition in to crisis point was my overreaching, constant busyness. No one should expect themselves to work 15 hours a day, seven days a week, even doing things you love to do.  For my physiology, it’s too much.

So, starting with the fact that I’m grateful just to be here, I’m grateful I still have vision and speech and balance. I’m grateful for my children and their good health and their successes. I’m grateful to all the writers who have contributed so generously to Crossroads. I’m grateful to my family for all their support and encouragement. I’m deeply grateful to all my readers and the whole Culver City community for the way they make this place so much fun.

I am taking one item off my bucket list this holiday; missing the family dinner to go and have dinner tonight with my other family up in the mountains. I have been invited for years, and this year, I’m delighted to accept.

So, as you count your blessings, know that every time you count them is unique. They may seem so similar, but they are each special. This moment will never come again. Savor it.

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