The sun comes up every day in the exact same place in the sky. We turn the lights on, we stretch, we hit the alarm to snooze a little bit longer. The pause between 6:18 and 6:24 never felt so sweet. And we rise.
364 days a year, we allow ourselves to be as distracted as we want, as rushed as the moment calls for, only looking up when there’s a second to spare. Yet on one single day, one chilly (or warm) 24 hours in November, we put on our happy faces, we tilt our heads up, we see all the stars. Even if we’re feeling low, we push ourselves through the darkness and we love. We open our eyes and we let the love flow, in and out, pulsing through our veins. Until Friday.
It’s a silly thing, really, that simply because we call one day “Thanks-Giving” we break out the inspiration and propel ourselves into an action-mode of gratitude and thanks. Why not the other days of the year? Why just now? Is it just because we say so? Well, yes.
It’s so much pressure – too much for 24 hours. And, sometimes, commanding yourself to feel for one thing makes you wish for ten others…for yourself, and for the people you care about. You think about all in life that hurts you, that hurts those around you, that you just want to be otherwise…and your moment of gratitude becomes a longing that lingers.
Gratitude, just like yoga or art, is a practice. It’s something you cultivate year-round, every second you can. Just to get up, just to awake to the world – that in and of itself is such the blessing! And yet we rise, we stretch, we hit the alarm button to snooze a little longer like it’s nothing. Like it’s small. Every single day in which we actively choose to get up and go is a gift.
Look out the window – as you wake, as you work, as you drive. What do you see?
There is a whole sky in front of you, a whole world open to your love.
There is a woman outside my window right now as I type; she’s standing in the middle of the sidewalk with a guitar and a paper cup and belting “Stand By Me.” She sings and it’s her world. I cry, and I think it’s because I see someone who’s alone. But then she smiles, and I realize it’s because it’s there on that sidewalk that she gets to meet the world. I soften my gaze and let go of my assumptions, I open my eyes wider and I see it. That’s how gratitude shines.
If today is the day we give thanks “because we say so,” I say we sow our thanks into all the rest of the years ahead as well. No matter the stress, no matter the strife. We’re in control, after all. I say we sow our gratitude into the holly-lined Decembers, into resolution-filled Januarys and the Hallmark card Feburarys. Into the ides of Marches and the showers of Aprils – into the blossoming of Mays and the gloomiest of Junes – the Julys and the Augusts that heat up our nights so hot they leave us a bit burned. Into the new beginnings of Septembers. Into Octobers. Into Novembers, all of all of them, not just those select Thursdays.
And then beyond that, hoo boy! Today, this Thanksgiving, can be our new year’s eve of gratitude, just the beginning of a Thanksgiving to last a lifetime. Gratitude is an all-encompassing force, a blanket of warmth, a safety net, a buffer. Without gratitude, what are we? To give and get love is the gift that gives in droves. Even when things seem murky, even when relationships feel strained, even when you’re fighting over dinner plans but you both know it’s not really over dinner plans – gratitude always wins. Even the friendships that crumble, the loved ones that pass, the family that’s of the same DNA but of an entirely different planetary orientation – gratitude wins. Even when there seems to be nothing, when there seems to be no one – we have at least one person to love and that is ourselves. Gratitude wins. And that act of self care and self respect is the greatest form of thanks we could show ourselves just for waking with the sun. To be alive, simply to breathe, is such a blessing. We are faced with choice after choice every single day. Choosing gratitude and love is the easy part, and the part that makes even the rough spots worth it.
And we rise.
Happy Thanksgiving, all 365 days of it.