Friday, February 18, 2011

{practicing gratitude}

It's been a really weird week. Maybe the planets are all misaligned. Maybe the barometric pressure is too low. Maybe the seasonal changes are wreaking havoc with people's circadian rhythms.

In my house, with all of us being sick my personal schedule has been nudged off kilter a bit. We've missed our usual classes for the past week and have even had to cancel our outdoor class (again - the first time it was weather-related).

Come to think of it, it's not just this week that's been odd ... perhaps it's been the whole month so far.

I don't know why it is, but nothing seems to be exactly as it should be. So much unrest. So much controversy.

Deus Ex Machina was making a list the other day. He's recently finished reading Tom Brown's The Vision, and his list was the four things that man "works for." The list is peace, love, joy, and purpose. It's funny, because earlier, and I can't even remember what I was doing, but I scribbled a note to myself on a sticky, probably while I was working and the thought occurred to me, as often happens. The note says, Why don't natives living in their tribal units need a vacation? Why do so many "westerners" go "camping" for vacation?"

The answers to my scribbled notes are easy, and it's because people who live with nature have a connectedness to the essence of life. Their energy, their spirit, is intricately connected, and their every day lives are doing those four things that Deus Ex Machina wrote that man works for. They have, every minute, of every day, those four things: peace, love, joy, purpose.

I'm not sure that we, westerners, can even understand what that feels like - to be truly connected to all that is, and that in the simple act of living, our lives have meaning. It's such an alien idea that even as I think I understand, when I write it, and I try to comtemplate what that means, it's like reaching through the sewer grating and trying to retrieve a lost coin with only the use of my fingertips. The full understanding keeps inching just out of reach.

Most of us live here on this earth, but we do not live with the Earth, and our failure to understand is destroying our home.

We all know all of the analogies of how we've sullied our space like [insert rest of simile here]. It doesn't matter that we find another creatively vivid way to say what we all know, and perhaps it's time to stop all of the cute comparisons and just face the reality that we have gone beyond the tipping point, beyond the point of no return, beyond any opportunity to reverse the damage.

We all have cancer.

Modern medicine can not cure us.

That's not to say that there isn't hope. We can not reverse the damage, but perhaps, we can slow ... maybe, even, stop ... the spread of the disease.

What bothers me, though, is that we all seem to think that the tiny things we do as individuals don't matter, that small changes by small people won't make a difference, and I think that continuing to believe in such an illogic set of ideas is dangerous. It is ONLY through *collective, but individual changes that we will make a difference, because big policy changes only happen when enough little people demand them.

It still takes one monkey to start washing the potato before any of the others will.

Someone has to start.

The other part of the equation that I think we, westerners, tend to gloss over or negate or that we just don't really, in our very egocentric mindsets, understand is that we are all connected, and not in the way that "we're-all-in-this-together-because-we-all-inhabit-the-Earth, but rather in a more fundamental, basic, we-all-come-from-the-same-energy-source kind of way.

We are all connected. We are all one. We all come from the water - and whether we believe that, literally, from an evolutionary standpoint or not, is really irrelevant. We can all think of times when we've been influenced by other people's energy - either good or bad (think, for instance, of the excited energy at a ball game and how intoxicating and insidious it was, whether or not we enjoy the sport).

The point is that what one being does will have a profound effect on other beings, and once we really, REALLY get that, perhaps we'll be closer to fully grasping what it means to live our life's purpose simply by existing.

For me, the beginning step is to build that positive (healing) energy in myself, and therefore, in those around me, by practicing simple gratitude. To look around me and be glad that I am here, and that I have such abundance.

As I write this, on the other side of the window mostly covered with paper snowflakes, it's beautiful, warm and sunny outside. The sky is deep blue and the sun is sparkling on the melting snow.

It's time to tap the maples, the herald of the changing seasons.

And I am so grateful, so thankful, to live in a place that has so much ... LIFE. Even in this, the death of the year (winter), there is life here, life that is sustained by this cold, often referred to as inhospitable, environment, and not through the copious use of fossil fuels. Life has always thrived here.

I am awed and humbled by the resilience of the creatures and plants and organisms that have learned to survive and thrive in this climate, and I am thankful that they are willing to be patient with me while I stumble along trying to figure out what they already know.

And I'm thankful that my own body is incredibly resilient as well and that I'm feeling much stronger today.


  1. Excellent post! Very basic thinking but that is really what people don't want to do...we need to realize the answers are all there right in front of us! Sometimes I think I am the only person that LOVES where I live...everyone seems to be always looking for something else. I realize I am the lucky one...

  2. If you are in a society with low or no specialization that means you are responsible for getting your own food. If you take a vacation when you have no food you starve.

    If you have enough food and minimal stuff for your purposes you stop working, and do what ever you want.

    But how do take a vacation from being a generalist? Since you are already doing nothing particularly special (you are non-specialized recall) you would then have to do something specialized.

    Of course what we do as "jobs" are specialized tasks. So they might want to do something like our "jobs" for vacation. LOL