Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On giving thanks

And the best ones were the ones I got to keep as I grew strong,
And the days that opened up until my whole life could belong,
And now I'm getting the answers, when I don't need them anymore,
I'm finding the pictures, and I finally know what I kept them for,
I remember, I can see them....

~ Dar Williams, "The Blessings"

I really like that song these days.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Which to me, is just plain weird, because I grew up in New England, so I still expect Thanksgiving to be cold.  But last year on Thanksgiving, it was 80 degrees out and the hills were on fire.  Welcome to southern California.  Today I went out in a long sleeve t-shirt at lunchtime and got a pumpkin pie smoothie for lunch.  (It was delicious.)

As a kid and a teenager, I was totally cynical and bit too smart for my own good.  I remember making a big deal over being offended by Thanksgiving, because we were celebrating the displacement and genocide of a native people.  (Seriously, I had a dismal view of humanity.  I read Lord of the Flies when I was 12 or 13 years old and didn't get over it for years.)  And it's true, the history behind this holiday is fairly messed up.

But... I do like the concept of the holiday, these days.  It's a great idea to have a day that reminds you to literally give thanks for all the things in your life that are good.  As I think about the history of the holiday, I wonder if there's another metaphor in the story.  It's not that people always do the right thing, or that there won't be huge mistakes along the way, or that everything happens the "right way."  But everything happens.  And it's not always obvious why.  And sometimes it's weird and strange and messy, and people act imperfectly, and bad choices are made.  But at the end of the day, here we are.  And if all those crazy things hadn't happened along the way, we would not exist as we do today.  So give thanks for that.

I am so thankful for where I am right now.

I'm thankful for the weird and imperfect state that my life was in two and a half years ago.  I'm thankful for all the crazy choices I made that brought me to that moment when I decided to close the door on ballet, after 15 years of investment, and turned to Bikram yoga to fill the gap.

I'm thankful for the first friend from work who brought me to a class in 2004, and the other friend who brought me to class in Boston the year later, and to myself for going on my own.  I'm thankful to my first teachers in Boston for coaxing me into the practice, for planting those first seeds, and I'm thankful to them for watering the seeds and letting them grow.  I'm thankful to all my teachers and mentors along the way.  I don't know where I would be without them.  There are some names that burn brightest in my mind, but if they're reading this, they already know exactly who they are.  Thank you so much.

I'm thankful for the many uncomfortable and imperfect situations I've been in that have forced me to find my own position, stand my ground, and establish myself as an independent person.

I'm thankful for the late, lonely nights when I was missing my old home, friends and family, because those days sent me to the online community searching for connection, and I found it, and I made true friendships, and the course of my life actually shifted as a result.

I'm thankful for all the times I couldn't go to teacher training, no matter how hard, because now I am going at exactly the right time.

I'm thankful for my family, because when I told them (separately) about my new life plans, my mom said, "You are going to be so amazing," and my dad said, "Thank you for telling me."

I'm thankful for bad days, bad weeks, bad months, because they make me appreciate the good ones even more fully.  Not only that - which seems overly simplistic - but I suspect that the best times couldn't even exist without those other times.

I'm thankful for my body, for everything it can do and everything it can't do yet.  I'm thankful for the postures that I am not yet able to do.  I'm thankful for the knowledge that in time, everything is coming.

I'm thankful for every time I've fallen out of a posture and every time I've gotten back in.

I wouldn't change any of it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


lz said...

Too often, we take so much for granted, and get caught up in frustrations and things that don't work out. But yes, as mentioned in this post, the frustrations and imperfections in our lives are there for a reason--we should be thankful for everything that unfolds in our lives, because it all serves a purpose.

Thanks, J, for your perspective in this post, and thanks for reminding us that sometimes, we should be thankful to just be, to just watch life unfold.

Big G said...

Awesome, awesome post. I'm thankful for people like you J, who inspire me to continue the journey I started just a few months ago. It means everything to me, and makes the journey that much more enjoyable. Thank you.

tracik said...

Love, love, love it. Anyone reading this post can relate it to their own experiences. You are indeed going to be an awesome teacher. No doubt. As a side note, not too cold in Boston today! it's 12:30pm and a balmy 49 degrees. Actually stood outside the studio this morning chatting and was not chilled. Remember growing up when Thanksgiving was always like sub 30degrees and even snowing at times? Thankfully it's pretty mild today :) Have a truly Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Meg VR said...

Awww, you made me cry! Me, too, me, too, me, too for ALL of it. Practicing at my absolutely packed home studio today was uplifting, funny and a little soupy. Boy, did I feel thankful! Take care and enjoy,

aHappyYogi said...

In Sweden we don't have Thanksgiving, but I really can relate to what you are writing. There are so many things to be grateful to and especially the line where you are grateful to coming back into poses you fallen out of. Micro-restarting, giving yourself another chance as we should always do with both ourselves and with others.

thedancingj said...

lz - Thank you for writing! I know exactly where you are coming from, and I'm so glad that you read this and it struck a chord with you.

G - Thanks for sharing the ride! I love it! The more the merrier, for sure.

traci - I DO remember having snow on Thanksgiving back when I was a kid. Glad you guys had a nice day this year! I've loved following your dispatches from Boston. :)

Megan - Awwwwwww! My Thanksgiving morning was the same - fun, high energy, mat-to-mat yoga class to start off the day. I've never seen so many people in that room, and I was so glad to practice together with everyone! Happy holidays to you...

thedancingj said...

Whoops, I missed one - Cristina!! I'm glad you can relate. I love that phrase, "micro-restarting." Thanks for joining this little community. I absolutely adore your posts.

catherine said...

Just read this, catching up on back-posts, so to speak. :) *If only* this yoga had come into my life right when ballet left. If only. But everything is happening at the exactly right time.

I am so excited for you!