Hibernating for months on end in the midst of a deadly pandemic has a way of making one go deep. Five million people perish from a virus—how could we not go deep? For many of us, the devastation and isolation of COVID has had that effect, forcing us to ponder some fundamental questions about life itself: What does it even mean to be alive?
The very idea of life has come into sharp relief, including the eternal and uncomfortable question: Do I like my life?
But whether we like our lives or not, for many of us Life is now the hero of our lives, the main subject, the dominant theme. We’re thinking about what life means.
So, when Thanksgiving– the holiday of gratitude– shows up, the life theme fits perfectly. That is the beauty of gratitude– it forces us to look for things we’re grateful for, whether we’re in love with our lives or not.
That is the beauty of gratitude– it forces us to look for things we’re grateful for, whether we’re in love with our lives or not.
I can’t help thinking of the movie, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” about a man who became completely paralyzed in a car accident. He was left with only two things—his imagination and his functioning eye lids. He was so grateful for those little bread crumbs of life that he figured out, with the help of his nurses, how to communicate through blinking. He ended up writing a book.
That is gratitude in the extreme, reduced to its shining essence.
We all have a lot more life in us than that man. So much of it, in fact, that we can make an endless list of things to be grateful for, even if there are many things about our lives that we can’t stand.
That may be the ultimate reason to be grateful—the fact that we can always find things to be grateful for.