Here’s a little qualm I’m having with this whole “gratitude” thing when it comes to Thanksgiving.
Every time I go to a yoga class, the teacher makes her little spiel about gratitude and how we should all be grateful. For our lives. For our yoga practice. For the little things. For what we have. For what we don’t have.
And every time this is the intention, I’m tempted to walk out. And do something really ungrateful, like, steal some Kombucha from Whole Foods because it’s too damn expensive anyway and they’re just another evil corporation. Or get pissed off that my car doesn’t have automatic locks. Or hate my body because it’s currently a size two and not the size zero I wish it was. Or refuse to check someone’s thousand dollar fur coat at the high-end restaurant where I work and get fired from my job as a hostess.
Because all of these things that are deemed ungrateful are, in fact, just my desires that are not currently being met. I know that instead of focusing on what’s wrong with my life, I’m supposed to focus on what’s right in it and be grateful for “abundance” and “joy” and “practice” and “opportunity” and a lot of over-used yoga world words.
But being happy with what I already have doesn’t allow me to change my world into one I actually want to live in.
Being grateful doesn’t give me space in my life to dream.
It doesn’t allow me to live in a world in which I’d be a size zero every single day of my life and wear thigh high boots and dark eyeliner and a kick-ass mask.
Everyone would want to sleep with me, all the time.
I would quit my job because I had more important things to do, like hack into global banking accounts and shut every big business and corporation down. I’d also drive around in a Batmobile and radio stations would only be allowed to play Nirvana, 90s grunge, Peter Gabriel, Eminem, Dave Brubeck’s Time Out Album and Katy Perry.
The world, I guarantee you, would be a much better place.
There wouldn’t be McDonald’s and everything would be gluten-free and organic and we’d be in perfect harmony with the Earth. Or, actually, nevermind. McDonald’s would be good for the Earth and healthy for you.
Let’s be honest, sometimes, even when you’re a gluten-free vegan, all you really need is a Big Mac, fries and one of their crappy chocolate shakes and apple pies. And what were those things in the 90s? Blizzards?
Yes. I want a healthy M&M blizzard right now.
Because I have a secret, my friends. This whole gratitude thing, well, it’s not real. It’s a coping mechanism, a way to keep us sane. Because sanity is quiet, happy and numbingly productive.
That warm fuzzy feeling you get when you say you’re grateful for what you have instead of reaching for what you want is called settling. It’s a lot like taking Prozac, just, without the Prozac.
Instead of changing your life into one that you want, you settle and say you’re grateful for what you’ve settled for. This makes for a society of repressed and unchanged people who don’t have a whole lot of emotion but have a whole lot of smiles.
Let’s not pretend this repression thing is good, either. It’s the stuff of rapists and serial killers—gruesome criminals who we imprison. What makes the quiet repression of the common so different?
I have a challenge for you this Thanksgiving. Instead of being “grateful” for what you have, instead of pretending you’re oh-so-happy about eating some crappy pumpkin pie, do something that fulfills one of your utmost desires.
See how you feel, and if notice if you even want to even eat that pumpkin pie, or smash it against the wall. If you do, go for it.
Just remember to be grateful when you clean up the bits.
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Editor: Michelle Margaret
Image: elephant journal Archive