I don’t wish to sound all “Polly-annish” about life. It’s not “all good.” Shitty things happen and there may be times when gratitude is an incorrect response.
And with that acknowledgment, I will still stand by the assertion that sharing what we love with joy and appreciation is good medicine for the dis-ease of the self-contraction.
So today is the USA's celebration of Thanksgiving. And thankfully, the lies we were taught about Thanksgiving are being exposed and acknowledged. And, as to be expected by the voracious appetite of late-stage capitalism exacerbated by neoliberal ideology, more attention is paid to tomorrow's "Black Friday" than this day of giving thanks! We have this one day of giving thanks and then it's back to the rapacious greed of buying, buying, buying.
And yet... that there is a day set aside to offer gratitude for what we do have is a good thing. For the last several years, we have celebrated "Friendsgiving" as Monica, Giovanna and I have no family here in Tucson. This year, with Covid, it will be greatly reduced to just us and one other family whose daughter is Giovanna's bestie, with whom we have bubbled for the sake of our daughters' sanity.
But today, I have been thinking more of the "Giving" part of Thanksgiving. What gives you joy to give? I love sharing laughs with my daughter, movie and book suggestions to my dearest friends, treats to my dog, Gomez and sharing the Dharma with my students. There's more... I excitedly told my friend Laurent that when he comes by for our monthly "Physically Distanced Outside Happy Hour" I am looking forward to sharing the Uncle Nearest whiskey I found at Trader Joe's! And, of course, there's the donations made to various charities.
We can give time, energy, attention even when we've little material goods to give. I have noticed that when I give, I feel both more connected with others -- interestingly, not only to the one I give to, but to life itself -- and expansive. I feel myself expanding beyond the bonds of self until, as Dogen says of zazen, bodymind drops away and there's no trace of this dropping away.
I want to thank all those who have joined me in daily practice since March, and especially to those who transformed this time of pandemic difficulty to request I offer my 9-month Buddhist ethics (Precept) course and for their support, both energetic and material. Let us together keep sharing the gifts of love, life, heartbreak and joy.