Much To Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving

To the editor:

No mistaking me and Thanksgiving sentiments; I thoroughly admire the holiday’s essence. I find it, though, a telling remark on the vagaries of life that we need a day to remind us to be thankful.

I guess that forgetfulness is due to nature seeking the path of least resistance. As rivers run down, not up, hill, so to moan, to complain, to whine is the more beaten path of the human condition. The less traveled attitude of gratitude seems the direction we need pointers on.

Growing up, my older step sister, who as a child fled the Soviet occupiers of East Germany, oft posed this provocative reminder of relativity. How many of us, she asked, would willingly put all their troubles in a brown paper bag and throw them up in the air with all our neighbors’ bags, randomly collecting what rained down? Our lot is, in truth, often better than what we credit it to be.

I offer, then, my own life ledger:

How generously I note how serious life can be; how stingily I see the ironies, remembering, after all, that since nobody gets out of this Big Tent alive, we may as well just enjoy the show. Grin and bear it.

How generously I disparage our national political strife and intrinsically messy democracy; how stingily I trumpet that we’re not rioting in the streets, blowing each other up, or displaying our bloodied former leaders in refrigerated market stalls.

How generously I wake up decrying an assortment of age-related aches and pains; how stingily I praise the simple miracle of rising vertically and ambulating.

How generously I bemoan diminished reading sight; how stingily I exult not being blind, deaf or mute.

How generously I curse being a working stiff; how stingily I sing the blessings of having a job to report to; a loving family to feed; and a son at college eager to make something of himself.

How generously I sigh over lost home value; how stingily I admit that my abode would be a veritable mansion in Japan or Europe; it’s blessedly not foreclosed; and, unlike 40% of the world’s population, I enjoy indoor plumbing. All of this, no less, nestling in a region without snow storms or humidity stifling misery indexes.

How generously I lament Antioch’s hunger for downtown development matching Brentwood’s and Pittsburg’s; how stingily I toast the Highway 4 expansion, beckoning eBART and ferry, new marina ramp, and A and L Street remakes.

How generously I focus on blight; how stingily I acknowledge that we sit on the Delta, boasting gorgeous parks, a handsome community center and golf course event center, career-themed schools and an hour or so proximity in any direction to world class cities and stunningly gorgeous recreational areas.

How generously I dwell on crime; how stingily I note that America’s crime rate is the lowest since 1968 and that Antioch went down last year 16 percent in violent crime and on all indices except burglary.

Surely, brothers and sisters, we all have our untold presents. Is the arithmetic too hard to take a few of the 86,400 seconds in a day gifted us to count our blessings? Thanksgiving, after all, is not just the last Thursday in November. It is a state of mind.

In the grand scheme of things, Meister Eckhart seemed to have had it right: “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

Walter Ruehlig

One Comment to “Much To Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving”

  1. Carole Harrison says:

    Thanks for the wonderful reminders of how fortunate we are, Walter! Indeed, we should be saying “Thank You” to God, the Universe, our Greater Power, every single day.

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