Thanksgiving and Hopeseizing
My Really Sucky Thanksgiving Poem
‘Twas the day before Thanksgiving,
And all through the house,
Yapped two silly dogs
And two cats that can’t mouse.
Work was a’callin’
And the house was a mess
Whether she’d get out of bed
Was anyone’s guess
The dishes weren’t ready
to her family to take
The sides were unstirred,
And desserts left unbaked…
…and that’s pretty much where my poem breaks down.
Because I can’t poetry.
Today is Thanksgiving in the United States (happy belated Thanksgiving, my Canadian friends), the one day out of the year we are “supposed” to be thankful. I think Thanksgiving is kind of like Valentine’s Day—if someone beats their partner 364 days a year but brings them chocolate on Valentine’s Day, does that mean that Valentine’s Day is special? I think that if we can’t be thankful any day but Thanksgiving, we might want to readjust our brains.
On the other hand, it’s a great opportunity to pause and remember to give thanks.
Some time ago, I started (and stopped, dammit) a practice of gratitude. Every day, I would list three things for which I was grateful. Some days it was easy, and I could have listed a hundred things. But other days, not so much.
Some days, I could not think of anything beyond what I listed every day for the past week: I’m grateful to be alive. I’m grateful to have a job that (mostly) pays my bills. I’m grateful the dog didn’t wake me up at 3 in the morning.
People may say, “You have so much to be grateful for! Look at the homeless, look at those with crippling illnesses.You have it so much better than so-and-so!” They tell us to look at someone other than ourselves for comparison. We have it so much better.
And they do have a valid point.
Should gratitude really be a competitive sport?
Shouldn’t we be giving thanks for what we have—not because others do not have it—but simply that we have “it” at all? Shouldn’t we be giving thanks that we don’t have something—not because others do have it—but simply because we don’t have it at all?
It’s good to be thankful and grateful, but I think comparison of ourselves to others should be another cardinal sin.
If we have much for which to be grateful, we can also be grateful for that. That in itself is a blessing. And if we are so blessed, we can elevate those around us: we can raise a toast or a smile, brighten our surroundings, offer a hand to help lift someone up. Show up, listen up.
Maybe even try not to throw up.
Up up up.
If we’re struggling, we need to be reminded of one cold, stark truth:
If we’re struggling to find something for which to be grateful, if we’ve lost the lamp along the way somehow, if we worry that we’re an imposition or a bother or a burden to those who reach to help us, that they wouldn’t help us if they really knew us, or a million, billion other worries, we may need reminding.
We matter. You matter.
You. Matter. You ABSOLUTELY matter. Thank you for coming to my Ted talk.
If you’re wondering if I’m talking to you, why yes, I am.
Maybe it’s damn near impossible to see right now. Or maybe it’s been that way for longer than you can remember. Maybe people told you otherwise, maybe you heard the opposite so often that you believed it.
Lemme tell you now: They fucking lied to you.
You. Matter. End stop.
Maybe they didn’t lie so much as trumpet their version of truth, a “truth” grounded in their ignorance, their short-sightedness, and their selfishness. Maybe that which they proclaimed to be the gospel truth really is the bullshit conclusion of a false premise.
Come to think of it, maybe they did lie in the first place.
I’m not here with Pollyanna bullshit to blow sunshine and glitter up your ass. I’m not here to lie to you, to coddle you, to make you feel better about yourself.
I’m here to speak the truth: and that truth is that YOU MATTER.
This probably won’t make you feel better; the people I’ve met who truly believe that they do not matter, who hold that belief deep in their bones, those people do not want to hear this. They don’t want the conflict of new information rubbing against long-held beliefs.
But there are so few things that I know absolutely.
But I know this: Everyone matters.
Just how does this chick think that she–of all people-–knows this universal truth? you may ask.
How do I know this? Because I’ve seen glimpses of the beauty of the great cosmic jigsaw puzzle; I’ve seen moments of perfect timing, perfect kindness, and perfect peace.
Glimpses. Glances. Moments.
Not enough, not nearly enough, but just enough to see the truth.
Every single one of us matters.
We are all pieces in a giant cosmic puzzle, and we rarely, if ever, get to see the whole picture. We don’t always know how we fit with others, what the purpose behind our purpose is.
Believe me or not–it’s your choice. I just ask that you let it steep in your brain for a little while. Consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you really do matter.
Consider the possibility.
We may never know what our reason for being is; we may never know how we affect the world.
But you are the pebble in still water that creates ripples.
We may never see how far-reaching those ripples are or whom they touch. We may never see the impact of our tiny, seemingly unimportant actions in the lives of others.
But you are that pebble. We are the pebbles.
And we have a very, very important purpose.
If for no other reason than the corner of the jigsaw puzzle is incomplete without us, if for no other reason than we may be the bridge between two pieces that would never fit together without us, we are important.
We may not be able to see that purpose for the darkness that surrounds us, or the noise in which we get drowned out.
But you matter. We matter.
Reach out. Reach up.
Give thanks if you can. Seize hope if you must.
The world is just waiting to aid and abet your efforts to rise.