Have a Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! It’s got to be one of the best holidays: irrespective of religious or cultural background, or favorite football team, giving thanks is something we can all get behind.
1. I’m thankful, first, for the conditions that make life—the greatest and most fragile of miracles—possible. Clean air, fresh water, sunshine and a nurturing earth.
2. Those who sacrificed to make my life possible—and full. First, of course, my mother—who not only ‘had’ me, but worked two jobs to put food on the table. Who cooked, and taught me to read when I was a lil’tike, who taught me taste, style, values and…
3. Religion. Religion gets a bum rap, these days, and rightly so. But when you boil down to the essence of why we bother to go to church, temple or your local Shambhala Center, it’s got something to do with truth. Connection—to goodness, and to community.
4. My friends. There’s only a few people in my life who bother to give me the bad news—because they love me. Noel, David, mom. And for most of you, your better half—your boy or girlfriend, husband or wife. And for many of us, our morning barista or longtime all-day-every-day colleagues (Heather, Abbey). Those are the people with whom we have fun, the real kind that doesn’t need music or drugs, the kind that can exist and thrive even in silence and boredom, over a meal or on a walk. They’ve steadied me when I’m high or low, they’ve corrected me when I’ve gone off the path, they’ve reveled in me when I’m on a roll.
5. My puppy, because he’s cute and listens to be most of the time, and because he teaches me more about patience and myself than anyone except my guru, Trungpa Rinpoche, or my guru, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, or whatever girlfriend happens to be putting up with me, or not, at any given time.
6. My government. Like Mother Earth, this still-first world nation still cares about freedom, and security both, and has given me—a poor boy—a chance to make something of myself, and to do anything I want except murder, steal, or walk around with my dog off the leash.
7. My morning meditation. Without a few minutes of paying attention to my hazy, crazy mind, and returning my attention to the present moment, I’d be even more of an !@#$%^&hole, and even less in touch with the present moment. As a poor listener, a self-involved only child and an overcaffeinated eco/spiritual-evangelist, meditation gives me a chance to sit down, shut up, open up and breathe in and out, instead of just one or the other.
8. My health. Without exercise—in my case a little biking, a little yoga, a little climbing, a little hiking—and without good, organic food—and without what’s left of my youth—I wouldn’t be able to have any positive effect on the world, or work as hard as I do to grow my business, and eventually get more than $500 in my account so that I can start a family.
9. My heroes. Jon Stewart, Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson, Robert Redford, Summer Rayne Oakes, Graham Hill, Simran Sethi…whoever I encounter, whether in person or through the ol’boob tube, who’s working their butts off for the greater good. They inspire me to think of others. And as the Buddhists say, ‘If you want to be unhappy, think only of yourself. If you want to be happy, think of others.’
10. Technology. Without which I wouldn’t have good water to drink, a toilet to…in, internet to learn on and communicate through, good food to eat, a cell phone or even my cherished bicycle.