Many of my friends as well as numerous facebook pals keep gratitude journals, noting three things to be grateful for each day. While I don’t tend to keep such a journal, this Thanksgiving, I’m thinking happily of three obvious qualities innate to being human.
1. Breath: Every life starts with the first gulp of air and ends with the last gasp. How we land in ourselves, how we listen to others, how we summon up the strength or courage for new endeavors often and always comes down to breathing. I’m grateful for the long inhalation that lifts my chest and fills my belly, the slow exhalation that gives back to the air what the air has given me. I love the hard breathing that comes with exertion, and the slow, deliberate breathing when trying to slow a runaway train of a mind so that I can fall asleep. Breath carries me through downward dog and upward dog, washing the dishes and hauling yet more bags of recycling to the back of the van. It lifts me out of bed in the morning and tucks me into dreams at night.
2. Music: I love the song of life and songs that fill life—the slow waltzes that speed up by virtue of accordion and fiddle, the long sweeps of the strings in the orchestra, the happy beat of Ella Fitzgerald sending out a ballad from decades ago, and the boogie-woogie piano explosion of my friend Kelley when her hands touch the keyboard. I love the intricate songs that show me the inside view of life and love, especially the words of Leonard Cohen, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bruce Springsteen and Joni Mitchell (you can tell when I came of age) as well as the newer music my kind expose me to from Mumford & Sons to Korean techno music (well, not all of the techno music). I delight in classical, rock, show tunes, country, folk, world and just about every kind of music aside from heavy metal. Music is one of the sweetest frames around my life, and I’m deeply grateful for how it lifts and carries me.
3. Body: I am indebted to this body, my body, for its strength and bravery, agility and range of motion, flexibility and finesse. Such gratitude isn’t in spite of flaws and limitations, but because of them. It took me years of yoga before my hamstrings relaxed enough that I could bend over and touch my toes, and don’t even get me started about the long journey toward downward dog. This body walks and talks, falls over and gets back up, leans on walls and leaps off to dance in the living room like nobody’s business without anyone around. Even and especially as I age and change, I celebrate the gift of being a body.
Even now, I breathe slowly and deeply, my body rocking me in this old green chair as Richie Haven sings “Follow.” Breath. Music. Body. Thanksgiving abounds abundantly.