Many years ago, high atop a desert mountain that divides California from Nevada, I sat in a fold-up chair, bundled to the hilt as strong, icy winds managed to blast through my layers of clothing.
It was midnight and I stayed huddled with the others next to the campfire blazing its mark on the landscape. I sat looking up in awe, in wonder, inspired at the night sky, awash with stars and stars and more beautiful stars that went on in a ceaseless drape across the high mountain sky.
My eyes welled over a sparkling sea of twinkles fading in and out while sharp bright pinpoints kept a steady beam, a beacon once-upon-a-time used by ancient travelers. And in the middle of it all, the Milky Way spilled its way through the lighted spectacles and it was there that I felt my heart expand and gave thanks for being alive, for witnessing such wonder.
The wind continued to blow and howl and I was struck by the simplicity that sits within the complexity of our universe. I am alive, I breathe, walk, talk, eat, laugh and all the while, a star is born in some far off galaxy, its birthing light hurtling millions of miles a minute towards us. In the grand scheme of things, the top-of-the-food-chain magnificence we humans acquiesce to and dominate with pales in comparison to the existence that abounds outside our earthly realm.
Seriously, we are but sniffs of star stuff, carbon particles walking and forgetting all that takes place above, the daylight of the sun or the night lights of the city obscuring the phenomena from our eyes, leaving us in a narcissistic state of mind. We must remember to drop our singular point of view, see with humble eyes and remember our place in the universe. We must give thanks for life, view life as a sacred endeavor to share and enjoy with others, not to conquer and acquire.
Our well-being stems from a loving heart and an attitude of gratitude in everything we do. As we get caught in the daily rows of life, we tend to miss what is right before our very eyes and bulldoze through carelessly and thoughtlessly in our daily chores, or checking off the next thing to do on the bucket list, forgetting all is happening right here and now.
Thankfulness – gratitude – is a way of living that produces a never-ending yes to everything we confront. “Thank you” says I think gracious thoughts to you. “Thank you” goes back to the proto-Germanic word thankojan that has the same root as “think” and basically translates to “thoughts in gratitude.”
“Thank you” – two powerful words to include every day in your life. Is your glass half empty or half full? A thankful heart will actually see an empty glass as an opportunity to fill it up. People who count their blessings are generally happier and healthier than people who do not. Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Wake up every morning with a thank you on your lips for the chance to get up and live another day of life. Every day, thank the water that pours out of the pipes so you can cherish the luxury of water streaming over your body where others want in thirst for a simple drink. Hold thanks in your heart when you step inside a cool, air-conditioned workplace, where hard labor takes the form of typing endlessly on a computer and sitting comfortably at a desk.
Greet in gratitude all the challenges encountered and solutions soon find their way to clear the obstacles. Greet in gratitude all people encountered and peace envelops all that you do.
This Memorial Day, thank the fact we have never witnessed a war in our backyards. Have the greatest of gratitude that our everyday life is undisturbed by war.
Thank the veterans and the men and women sent overseas, for their duty and courage. And thank their families for the sacrifices they bear.