Bargell: Changing gears
November 6, 2012
Today, hopefully, is the day our focus can shift from politics and turn toward other more traditional November favorites, like turkey and stuffing and thankfulness. As far as I can tell, there will be near national consensus we’re grateful the Oval office race has concluded. Even though as I write the election outcome remains uncertain, regardless of who “wins” there seems to be an overwhelming desire to move away from judgment and cynicism. My crankiness meter has topped out in the red-zone the last couple of weeks. It’s due a rest.
It was in this frame of mind that I ran across notes from a friend who started, on Nov. 1, to post daily on Facebook the reasons why she is thankful. Initially, it seemed sweet – if a bit cheesy. I wondered too whether her 1,400 other Facebook friends would be interested. (At the same time I wondered, rather rhetorically, if I even know 1,400 people.) Other people’s interest is beside the point, however. Far more important is her effort to specifically identify her gratitude.
Not surprisingly her children, including a teenage daughter, topped my friend’s gratitude list. As a parent I was touched when her daughter responded right back to her mom’s gratitude post, letting mom know that she was the teenager’s inspiration. The exchange prompted me to initiate a conversation with our youngest about the things she is thankful for. Her short list was not surprising. Family (even her sister), friends, school and her pets came out “winners” in that race. The discussion made me realize I do not often enough let my family know how thankful I am for their presence in my life.
As I mulled over gratitude I realized that regardless of the election outcome I am genuinely thankful we live in a country where we have the privilege of voting without concern for our safety. These thoughts lead me to ponder all of the military personnel who protect our freedoms. I realized we have another chance to say thanks this Sunday, on Veterans day. The events of the last few weeks have once again reminded us, tragically, of the sacrifice so many have made in the line of duty. Gratitude (like crankiness) builds on itself, and I am glad my friend reminded me of this simple precept.
With only a few weeks remaining until the national holiday set aside to give thanks I’ll try to follow my friend’s lead, and be on the lookout for more things to appreciate. Sure it’s an attempt, in part, to distance myself from some of the grime of the past couple of weeks. There’s that selfish angle too. Every blog or post I read on gratitude suggests the people who practice appreciation daily are far more content with their lives. So, why not? Crankiness hasn’t worked so well, and after all, it is the right month. There’s no penalty if we disagree, and the rewards may be great.
If I’m lucky, and practice hard, there’s even a chance that someday when I let the girls know how grateful I am for them I will hear a faint echo of my friend’s daughter’s response “Love you mom! You’re my inspiration.”
Albert Schweitzer once said, “at times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Thanks friend.
Cindy Bargell is a mom and attorney who lives outside of Silverthorne. She welcomes your comments at email@example.com.