On being truly thankful
There is a point buried in here somewhere though this is probably going to ramble a bit, as my stuff usually does. Sometimes my best words gel and distill after I’ve hit the publish button. The same may happen to you in reverse - so read it, let it percolate and see where you end up.
A short time back I wrote an entry, not a page, on the five words “smile, breathe, and go slowly”. Actually focusing in on each word for a time. To see it fresh and full and current each and every time.
There are lots of things to be thankful for. I say not “giving thanks” because that leads inevitably to the question “to who or what?” Go there if you wish. I simply want to be considerate of my circumstances, recognize the miraculous gift of my existence and all the things that allow it to continue to be.
Let’s think a bit about being seriously thankful. Mostly about food. Not just today, or at meals, or on Thanksgiving.
Why are we thankful once a year, if that? Growing up in my house, we never stopped even for a moment to think much about thanksgiving. Even in homes I visit who do say a grace daily, quite often it seems more rote, repetitive and rehearsed than live, current and thoughtful. It is a thing we need to be awake and aware for. Not just drone on the same words while, for appearances, we play at holding hands pre-meal.
Here are three small ideas I toy with: 1) what is food, 2) how to prepare to be thankful, 3) being thankful.
Food. I am in a constant pitched battle with my body to eat just enough for fuel and not much more (most of the time). Michael Pollan’s brilliant, concise quote on how to eat and what is food:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. If it needs a brand or has “ingredients” it’s not food.
I’m not a monk. I indulge, have weaknesses, occasionally binge. Still, overall I look at food as fuel. It helps remind me to ask “do I need this or just want it”? (I fail a lot).
At least once a day, though preferably before each meal, I stop and remind myself of a few things. Simple enough I breathe for a moment, slow down and then focus on all the words below. I say them now so that when I eat I remember to pay attention to and focus on the food. (I fail a lot).
These are some thoughts on food and giving thanks I have cobbled together over the years into a thing. I try to dwell with it for a few minutes, generally within a hour before eating. It’s not a prayer or like grace-at-the-table. I guess it’s obvious that a lot of my influences are Eastern-ish.
We must think deeply of the ways and means by which this food has come.
We must consider our merit when accepting it.
We must protect ourselves from error by excluding greed from our minds.
We eat lest we become (too) lean and die.
We accept this food so that we may become enlightened.
Wisely reflecting, I use this food not for fun, not for pleasure, not for fattening, not for beautification. I use this food only for the maintenance and nourishment of this body, for keeping it healthy, for helping with the Spiritual Life;
Thinking thus, I will allay hunger without overeating, so that I may continue to live blamelessly and at ease.
The bolds and italics are in my original because there is so much reminding that I need to do. Maybe you can see my struggles by what I emphasize. Each word is somehow relevant, if I will just take the time and reflect on it and its place among the others. Try it yourself.
I can see now that this is becoming a two parter.
Look for “Respect the last grain” next.
Until then, live at ease. Smile, breathe and go slowly.
(If you’re a runner, don’t go too slowly)