What are you thankful for?

So often, we examine what we are thankful for. Have we ever stopped to consider why we are thankful?


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Exploring why we are thankful allows us to find previously uncovered appreciation.

Profoundness is difficult to achieve. 

The open-ended questions of life have no definite answers, an annoyance to those who worship empiricism. To a writer like myself, though, this reality is somewhat of a blessing; when I process my deepest thoughts and spit out my interpretations, I do so knowing that they cannot be disproved, and this comfort is what allows profoundness to exist. There are no right understandings, but there are great understandings. There are explanations that we worship, to this day.

But, why is this?

The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.

— Anais Nin

If an answer cannot be proven right, by law, by nature, how does it service us? It cannot provide the “click” of a mathematical equation, nor can it facilitate great advancements in the scientific fields. These answers, in essence, are what we make of them, and this is why we continually reach for them. Humans are born with a natural desire for knowledge of this boundless world, and when no solution can provide us with the comfort that we are entirely right in our understanding, we reach for what comforts us most. This pursuit is where great writers are born.

Braver than any fireman, more heroic than any doctor, more vital to this world than any leader in a suit and tie; the writer is the man that allows us to live to the fullest. He runs towards a much greater opponent than fire, sickness, or corruption; he runs toward the questions that don’t allow themselves to be solved, simply with the desire to provide an interpretation. He does so not with a desire to be revered, but to be of service. He was born with the power to process the mystifying thoughts that captivate him, and he was gifted with command so that he could convey his ideas in a way that helps people. In return, he is not gifted monetarily, nor with praise. After all, he strives not for the ideals that plague mankind. The only result he seeks is fulfillment, both of his destiny and of mankind’s contentment. For the greatest writers among us, this is received, and any reverence that may follow is not support for their ego; rather, it is assurance that they have done what they were called by the forces of nature to do.

Oftentimes, the idea of profoundness comes from difference. The pursuit of understanding is one with no end, and therefore it is one that leaves the pursuer forever hungry. Interpretations may satisfy an audience when they are first served fresh, but every time they are regurgitated and fed to us once more, they lose their sense of luster that once served to keep us full. There is no everlasting meal of knowledge, and so the kitchen will forever remain open. Every budding chef may step up and offer their dishes to the panel of humanity, but if an ingredient has been used to the point of exhaustion, the critics will no longer have interest.

Such a challenge is the age-old question: what are you thankful for? After 400 years, any answers that one may attempt to originate have certainly been imagined before him, and the comfort of understanding that he may wish to provide with his answer is without question exaggerated. It is entirely appropriate to ask: why would anyone choose to conquer this foe?

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.

— Eckhart Tolle

More importantly, why would I choose to? I am certainly not a great thinker of my time, and any answers that may appease our desires would certainly come from someone with more experience than myself.

In short: my understandings come from an absence of fear. Any sense of rationale would tell me that the ideas I present will not be profound, and I will likely end up with more questions than answers, but still, I march forward. Like the writers that came before me, I look upon a mountain, and I think not of how I could fall to my death. I think of what could come of my ascent to the top, and I believe that knowing I passed on this opportunity would strike deeper into my soul than any jagged rocks of mystery and unknowability that may be waiting for me.

And so, I write. I write because I believe that there is a fundamental misunderstanding in the pursuit of profoundness, especially in the conquest of the question presented to me. So often, we examine what we are thankful for. Have we ever stopped to consider why we are thankful? Every year, we repeat the same phrases, and we don’t know what significance they hold in our hearts and minds. To me, an ideal may mean something entirely different than it does to you, and that is the beauty that governs this holiday. We get to create our own meaning, and when we choose to explore it, we find appreciation we didn’t know we had, and if we are lucky, we can find the understanding we strive for.

My necessities

Every day, I wake up with a roof over my head. I walk downstairs and find food on my table. I clothe myself, and I put shoes on my feet. I group these together because, at least in my world, they all define security. These realities are among the most commonly cited, for we are always reminded of how lucky we are to experience them. When we are persuaded to think about them, we are told to consider the other side. We are told to imagine what it would be like without the advantages we have. What if we lived paycheck-to-paycheck? What if we had no idea when our next meal would be?

These questions are noble, but I’d argue it’s more important to consider the implications of our own situation. Because I am blessed with security, I don’t have to consider survival on a daily basis, and I can think of what comes beyond. My basic philosophy is this: the meaning of life is to create our own meaning, and that is the mission which we are presented with. There are billions of men, women, and children who do not have the opportunity to consider these things, and the only meaning they can assign themselves is survival. They can only afford to see another day. They cannot afford to seize it. Meanwhile, I am allowed to look deep within myself and choose the meaning, the greater significance that pervades my time spent on this planet. I am allowed to choose writing, a trade that calls to me and nourishes me instead of demanding me and controlling me. I am allowed to strengthen my individuality for the benefit of myself.

My mother and father

Of course, the ideal of security is meaningless without navigation. We are all Magellan in the ocean of life, lost in our exploits, demanding a compass; perhaps the greatest miracle is that we are granted this. As night falls, I open myself up to the cruel processes of nature, but I feel no less safe with my eyes closed. I don’t have to, after all; the wall to my right separates me from two people that would take a bullet for me, two people who care more for my survival than for their own.

Often, this circumstance is surrounded by the mantra of “support.” To give thanks with a word like this is incomplete, and it is certainly not profound. Of course we are aware that our parents have a stake in our success. This is by our very nature; we are a creation of them, a vision of them. I am firmly aware that my pursuits and desires would go nowhere without the people who allow me to access them. I bring firm recognition to the fact that my future and my ability to create my own meaning in life hinge on the will of my parents. However, the alternate side to this consideration is where I truly find my gratitude.

All aspirations must carry a level of self-sufficiency; our dreams cannot be realized without the efforts that stem from us, and from who we are. And yet, this is also thanks to parental influence. If we carry the belief that the things we do are a reflection of our person, then our actions stem no more from us than from the people we result from. The greatest responsibility of a parent is to shape and mold the mind of the child they bear, and their success is ultimately determined by what this child becomes. I am proud of myself for my successes, yes, but I am much more indebted with gratitude for the fact that I am able to achieve because of what my parents make me. I can strive for academic excellence simply because I was programmed with a demand for it. The command of the written word I display in my writing was not a learned behavior, but a gift. Every attribute of my persona that people may enjoy is an imposition on the part of my parents. Every belief, a reflection. Every deed, a mirror. I am forever grateful for the protection of my livelihood, but I allocate much more importance to the way that life is carried out.

My cultivators

Of the common associations in our culture, teaching and nobility are, for good reason, among the most closely correlated. Knowledge is vital to creating meaning beyond survival in our daily lives, and to label the suppliers of this ideal as good or noble is entirely appropriate. One, however, must think deeper than to exalt these figures for simplistic reasons, as a misguided assertion of appreciation can be even more insulting than indifference. To thank someone in effortless terms for their choice of occupation is to thank a miner for his choice of emerald deposit. Put mankind on a scale, they are likely to fight for their own conditions, and for what they see as materialistically available; for this reason, we will never have a shortage of engineers, entrepreneurs, or other careers that satisfy these desires. Like a writer, though, a teacher fights for a cause, their passion for which can be easily detected. Some, admittedly, have taken up the career for their own gain. Many, however, are invested in the child, and these are the ones which collect my gratitude. I will forever know that there are some adults out there who will walk to the ends of the earth to see their pupils succeed, no matter what the field may be. I also know that the vast majority of my teachers were these kinds of people. Some have facilitated the beginnings of my writing career, simply because of a belief in me. Some have provided me a safe haven to come and clean up the messes I may find myself in. Some have sat me down and carefully explained to me the consequences of my actions. And they have all done these things without any benefit to themselves. Every day, when I step through the doors of my second home, I do so knowing that I can count on the people inside to act selflessly, no matter the circumstance. Every success is celebrated, not only by me, but by the many who helped make it happen. At the point when I finally cross the finish line, I will feel no more pride for what I have done than endless gratitude for what others have done. I will not be thankful because they were teachers. I will be thankful because they cared enough to be good ones.

My Companions

One of the earliest lessons I was ever taught was this: bringing joy to others will deliver you joy of your own. I don’t take it as a mistake that these were some of the first words I ever heard, for without them, my sense of direction is lost. The pursuit of happiness creates monsters out of many men, for they travel to dangerous realms to find their fix, and you can often tell through interaction that they have not received this guiding principle. The sense of altruism I carry throughout the world is not a plea of remembrance, or of reverence. It is simply an instrument to make life worth living. If the everyday world is a poison that slowly kills, then the smiles of those around me are the most effective antidote. Of course, for this, there’s not much I can attribute to anyone else, other than to recognize it. All I can truly recommend is to keep being yourselves, for that is what brings me the most joy. Most people thank their friends for being alongside them through the troubles they may face, but my views are more simplistic. All I ask of anyone is to smile; the knowledge that I have somehow made the world a happier place is worth more than any companionship. If you may remember or even revere me after we cross paths for the last time, I don’t want a label upon my name. I don’t wish for people to remember me with any sense of greatness or speciality. All I wish is for this recollection: he made me happier than I otherwise would have been. If I could have that small impact on several thousand people throughout my lifetime, it would make it all worth it. In the hopes that this is what transpires, and as a reflection on the many years that have already been completed, I give my most sincere thanks.

My enemies

Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid.

— Ronald Reagan

Perhaps this is my greatest asset, wrapped up in a contradiction. I have thanked security, guidance, cultivation, and companionship for allowing me to do what I do, but all of those would be null and void without opposition, for antagonism is what requires a protagonist. Where would a hero be without his mission? A knight without his dragon? A doctor without sickness? A sense of purpose is what holds my very being together, and I cannot achieve purpose without first having necessity for change. If all was perfect, then there would be no role for us but sitting in the fields, letting our years go by. If bitter weather did not exist, why would we have created fire? If darkness did not exist, where would the lightbulb be? Fighting evils is not simply an individual cause, but the purpose of humanity as a whole. So often, we profess our thanks for having escaped these tragedies, but we must recognize that without them, we would be nowhere. I am indebted to the presence of corruption, greed, and power, for they allow my journalism to become necessary. I praise the existence of unconquerable foes like prejudice, hunger, and inequality, for they stir emotions in a man that cause him to act against them. I welcome the reality that I am not always graced with happiness, for I walk every day in pursuit of it. I worship the occupancy of death, for it creates meaning and value around life. In the mission that we are presented with, to create our own, unique meaning around life, I would argue that our purpose is shaped around evil itself. As a writer, my pen hits the page because of the questions that terrify men and women alike. If every mystery had an answer that could be proven by fact itself, my services would be unnecessary, and I would be lost. The ambiguity of life itself, though, creates a need to be profound.

I hope I have been as such.