Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to consciously take time to appreciate your life. We’ve written in several contexts about the difference between a having culture and a being culture. In a having culture, we try in vain to get important emotional and psychological needs met through external sources. These external sources are physical objects like a car or ephemeral objects like self-esteem or love. We hope to gain self-esteem by getting validation from others, for example. Or we help to feel a sense of pride and satisfaction in our lives through the purchase of a new car. We can all benefit a great deal from using this day to celebrate a state of being rather than a state of having. We can celebrate the fact that we are alive and conscious of ourselves.
I often hear people fantasizing about what it would be like to win the lottery and how their lives would dramatically change. I think to myself on these occasions that they already won a lottery with the longest odds ever. Take a moment to think about the series of events that had to come to fruition for you to be reading this right now. Since the universe formed each moment had to go exactly as it did. More recently your ancestors had to meet each other, fall in love, and make choices about where they were going to live and what they were going to do. Tiny and seemingly insignificant occurrences through the generations changed everything and allowed you to come into existence.
I have been reading quite a few stories online about people who want their Thanksgiving meals to take place earlier in the day so that they can get a good spot in line for shopping on the black Friday sales events. I can’t think of anything more indicative of the backwards priorities of our culture than this desire. Our consumer economy has completely infringed upon a day meant to allow people to be thankful for their lives and their families, instead brainwashing them into being more interested in possessions that they probably won’t even care about in a few months.
I’m going to take this day to remember how precious life is and how quickly it passes. Actually my life is the only thing that I can truly say is my own. I am going to celebrate my ability to think about thinking, and share the miracle of conscious life with people I love. I’m going to stay in the moment, enjoy the taste of great food, and recognize that I am alive.