Thanksgiving Then And Now

There's a famous painting by Norman Rockwell depicting a family around the dinner table at Thanksgiving. All of the faces are aglow and the entire room is lit as if from above. The Kind Patriarch of the family thankfully stands readying the carving utensils as the strong silent matriarch brings the perfect turkey to the table.  The rest of the family is polished and well mannered.  Everybody is smiling, happy and relaxed. The Iconic Thanksgiving Holiday. 

I hated that picture. Who's family was that? It certainly wasn't mine! As a child it seemed to me that Holiday Life was filled with tension, expectations and arguments.  Even if it started out okay one sullen look or word would turn the entire day into an emotional rollercoaster. Now, I may be exaggerating a bit here, but the essence is probably understood by many.

One thing I understood perfectly well (or so I thought) was victimhood. Woe is me.  It's all your fault. As I grew, I expected holidays to be stressful. I expected life to be stressful. It became that way. I helped create and perpetuate my own reality. I became the stressor towards myself and towards others. 

In the land of plenty with much to be thankful for I could easily flip to angry and malcontent.

I was aware that I was supposed to express gratitude. This made me even angrier and more confused. ‘Be grateful,’, like ‘be spontaneous’ is a double bind. Through my own personality, my life experiences, addictions, ignorance and laziness I perpetuated these qualities and turned them into hallmarks of my own daily actions. 

How is one supposed to express gratitude perpetually feeling like a victim? Maybe on some level there is a perverse sense of satisfaction in remaining a victim in that it absolves us from work But that is a topic for another time. What I am concentrating on here is the fact that I did feel that way. 

Going through life feeling like I am shortchanged, going through life feeling like I am a victim, going through life feeling like I am owed, going through life resentful does not allow for gratitude.  I think I have found some of the answer. Gratitude is found in sharing on a daily basis and not in expecting on a daily basis. What I receive in life is important but what is of maximum value is what I get to share. As I look back on my recent years it is very different than it used to be. The members of my different fellowships, my students, teachers, mentors, clients and the people at the institutions where I volunteer all have made an indelible mark upon my life. 

I am truly wealthy and I am truly blessed. Now when I set my table and share I truly understand the light from above in that picture. I understand the smiles and I understand the camaraderie. In this season of Thanksgiving, remember that the road to illumination begins in darkness and the road to forgiveness begins with anger.

The Secret of the Golden Flower tips its hat to Confucianism, remonstrating us to become right with society all the while becoming right with the Universal One.

I cannot stress this enough. As said, if we do not correct, the noise of the silence will be overwhelming. Qigong will not return the horse we stole nor will it apologize to those we have hurt.