When you think November, what's the first thing you think of?
For me, the first thing that comes to mind is Thanksgiving which is, as the title of the holiday says, thanks giving. It's a day to give thanks.
I know it's not November yet, but it's close enough.
If you look around at the world today, it can seem, at times, that there's not really much to be thankful for? Sure, a lot of good things happen but a lot of terrible and confusing and frightening things happen too?
Are we supposed to be thankful for everything?
Yeah, I guess we should. But it's hard.
In America we have this presidential election coming up and it's simply chaotic.
There are refugees swarming into cities around the world, looking for help, shelter and comfort.
There are hungry families, people struggling and scraping for the bare necessities, shootings, and other terrible, horrible things happening all over the globe.
So why are we even celebrating Thanksgiving?
Because there's always something and if we have to work a little to see what it is, it makes that thing (or things) more meaningful.
I'm reading a book called And There Was Light by Jacques Lusseyran, a resistance leader in France during World War II. Jacques was an extraordinary person. Not only did he survive a concentration camp after being ratted out by a member of the resistance group, Jacques was blind.
He'd never really had strong eyesight but before the age of eight he got in an accident that left him blind.
He said about his blindness,
Every day since then [his accident and surgery on his eyes] I have thanked heaven for making me blind while I was still a child not quite eight years old.
I bless my lot for practical reasons first of all. The habits of a boy of eight are not yet formed, either in body or mind. His body is infinitely supple, capable of making just the movement the situation calls for and no other; ready to settle life as it is, ready to say yes to it. And the greatest physical miracles can follow from this acceptance.
I am deeply moved when I think of all the people whom blindness strikes when they are fully grown, whether it is caused by accident or injury in war. Often they have a hard lot, certainly one harder than mine.
But if you look on the flip side, it is easier to make habits when you're younger. If you've been doing something one way for a long time, it's pretty easy to keep doing that.
So if Jacques Lusseyran, a man who went blind very young, can say that he's thankful that he went blind young instead of old, well then, I think I certainly find something to be grateful for even in the wild, crazy, scary world we live in.
And, believe it or not, those trials can strengthen us.
Thanksgiving is a holiday where we think about what we're truly thankful for but that's not the only time we should be counting our blessings. We should be doing it all year around.
So have a happy Thanksgiving this November (if you're in the United States it's in November, for those in Canada, you already had it) and remember to just take a step back and look at all the wonderful things you've been blessed with.
Be thankful for what you have. Your life, no matter how bad you think it is, is someone else's fairy tale.
~ Wale Ayeni