Life is, seemingly, such a raging river, isn’t she? (1) It is hard to stop for a quick moment and reflect on just how lucky we are – on a personal level, I have a lot to be thankful for. Whatever my life circumstances, I have already won the cosmological lottery: I am alive and part of the human race. We are told that the chances of being born as me are incalculable – beyond true calculation. (2)
Additionally, you have to place that against a backdrop of all the other animate objects of our world and beyond: the bugs, the bees, the birds, and the creatures we cannot know or understand. We could have been born as one of those entities – why not? I often enjoy telling the story of the rare cockroach in my office. He seemingly stared at me for an inordinate amount of time. I, anthropomorphically speaking, had a conversation with him — I made him into a humanoid cockroach. “Why are you a man and not a cockroach and why am I a cockroach and not a man?” It was a scary thought. Kafka (1883-1924) discusses this at length in the Metamorphosis. (3)
Such a dynamic view of thankfulness allows a person to shoulder the pain and the frustration of being alive, and it also should give a strong sense of direction. I am not here just to be like a blade of grass, blowing in the wind, I am a stout tree that creates a canopy to cover the ground and give sustenance to the many life forms around me – it is a motivating thought. For most of human existence, we were grateful to live out our lives with a modicum of good health, a full stomach, and the avoidance of the pain and suffering brought on by war. This conscious view of reality has now been irrevocably removed by the Internet, the elephant in the room. (4)
When my mind has been filled with such a range of possibilities associated with my life, it is quite distressing to think that I, ultimately, must choose just one. I will only live out one life – my life. In another sense, this is deeply freeing because there is only one correct mission for me, the one that I choose. Now others around me may postulate that I have chosen the incorrect path in my life. That is only their opinion for I have to live out my own life. I am 100% responsible for me. That said, there are many people who, apparently, exist with no mission at all. They take menial and pointless jobs or they fall into an immoral or debauched lifestyle. There are many platforms in cyberspace that quickly provide the individual with cash, but at the cost of a person’s self-worth and personal integrity – not good choices, I feel. (5) In the end, just the appreciation of my uniqueness goes a long way in furthering my thankfulness for being alive. My life, nonetheless, has a mission and I must just uncover it. The great novelist and social reformer, Charles Dickens (1812-1870), leaves us with an interesting thought: Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
A closing thought: Why do we continually hear that life has a mission? This is because we are intrinsically builders. We have an innate sense, I believe, to improve and become finer. Those that stop and acquiesce in their struggle to attain perfection in life, whether physically or spiritually, slowly become hollow as they age. This does not have to be the case. Life is always in the ascendant. It clearly grows and ameliorates – physical death being a pathway to another reality. I must learn to be thankful each and every day that I have life and then get on with its improvement – my improvement. As Albert Einstein (1879-1955) reminds us, “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”
To sum up: This week, we spoke about being thankful for being alive.
To be noted: From the Dalai Lama (b. 1935) — I accept everyone as a friend. In truth, we already know one another, profoundly, as human beings who share the same goals: we all seek happiness and do not want suffering.
For reflection: The Atheists Are Wrong. Here’s The Proof.
This week, on your peaceful walk, please reflect on the things you should be thankful for.
Every day look for something magical and beautiful.
Don’t be a wage slave – critical thinking is great!
Quote: When I fully comprehend the gift of me, I am obligated to strive towards perfection.