A teacher for long years in the past, my thoughts filter through the mind like lesson plans. I wonder if we should keep a place in daily life where we record the blessings of the day?
There could be lists for individual and collective gratitude for as humans we share our lives. The people who come to our lives are no chance happenings. We draw them to us through our energies, with how we interact with each other, and live in society. The family members may not play the rights songs on the heartstrings, but they are gifts of life to us. As a song becomes melodious when different tunes are played with balance, we learn to share life within our imperfections. While some of us are blessed to have a family, others do not. While a friend or a neighbour may be content in life, some are not. At the end of the day, when I add to my list of gratefulness, the priority is on having all those people around me. The highlighting of the day does not end here though; it begins with sharing our blessings with those who are not as lucky as we are, to lend a shoulder when one needs it.New year resolutions for the year 2019, could be designated to the whole chapter of practicing gratefulness. As Sarah, a mother of three young children says, “We may be truly grateful with life, but too often in the hectic routines, the words remain unsaid. We could be more expressive of the things that we take for granted. We are often quick to complain, of a long traffic line, or the Internet not being fast enough. But how often do we thank an ordinary day that finds us all healthy and safe? Something could have gone wrong, and the day could have ended in tears.”
Many of us are not intentional when we do not thank the sunset for a regular day, of finding a home with children at the end of the day. It is the acknowledgment that remains silent; we feel it glad that the day went well but don’t express it. Saying “Thank you, God,” is a practice much needed for the soul to stay nurtured. Humans are gifted with the ability to express ourselves, and we have languages to do so. It seems to be derogatory to our higher intelligence when we fail to share our gratefulness. My father’s close friend, Late M. A. Rashid, may Allah hold him in peace, had a house-rule that we all the people of the house, guests and family members have to sit together for meals and, and to express how good it was to be together. I recall the gentle look in his eyes, the happiness as he would sit at the head of the table and watch us fill in the seats. And there was contentment in all who sat and ate together, our soul’s way of saying “I am happy.”
“Many families try to meet at least at the dinner table and say their graces despite life getting busier every day,” says Dipon, a banker and a father of two. For the bucket lists for the new year, adding a new note to thank the universe for all the gifts of mother nature might be a good idea. We cannot live without air, water, and sunlight. Thanking our bodies for carrying us through a day, is also a miracle. As Dipon whispers to the night before falling asleep, “Thank you my feet for all the steps you have made for me.”
Gratefulness touches our cores of being humans, a species blessed to have homes, families, and societies. When we realise to the extent we are protected from harsh elements; we also thank the stars. Like many other paradoxes in life, ‘being humane’ and ‘being a human’ becomes confusing in their meanings these days. We are ‘humans,’ a species of the Creator, and ‘being humane’ refers to our qualities of goodness, kindness and other sublime qualities that are vested on us. One wonders why a man or a woman, regardless of race, creed or religion, would choose to be anything less of what we are supposed to be as humans. Life circumstances may trigger unwanted characteristics, but the ultimate choice to be who we are, and how we face life are for us to choose.Cultures, religions, and family values are guidelines to choose our lives, but they are not there to shape our inner beings. As Asma, serving as a government employee, says, “With life’s necessities out of reach, a large family to raise, it is tempting to take offers of financial offers from people in return of passing a file to the higher authorities. But I see that as a betrayer of who I am, my inner being that can never rest in peace when I take it to dishonest means.” Asma is modestly dressed and leads a simple life. Her lifestyle gives her space to breathe, to find pleasure in simple things.
“The moment I think that I may not be living in the coming year, I start thanking God for every breath I take. When something goes missing, do we realise how much that thing meant to us? Loved ones need words of “I love you,” and our children need to hear words of thanks for things big and small, or else they don’t learn to be thankful,” adds Asma.
And so, with a gentle tap on the shoulders, and shall we say, “Thank you for the day I lived through, and thank you for waking me from my sleep.”
Tulip Chowdhury writes from Massachusetts, USA