The indispensable ingredient
“It is literally true, as the thankless say, that they have nothing to be thankful for. He who sits by the fire, thankless for the fire, is just as if he had no fire. Nothing is possessed save in appreciation, of which thankfulness is the indispensable ingredient. But a thankful heart hath a continual feast.” — W.J. Cameron
Have you noticed how quickly we come to expect, and then demand, blessings that we were once thrilled to have? Nowhere is this more evident to me than in the increasing number of comforts and conveniences we think we MUST have, but could actually live without quite easily. I think many aspects of travel fall into this category.
For example, cruising can be one of the most inexpensive ways to see a lot of different places without having to pack and unpack. The food and entertainment choices abound, and in all the cruises we’ve taken, the things we enjoyed far outweighed the things we weren’t crazy about.
Nevertheless, many seasoned cruisers are terribly hard to please. Go to any cruise review website and you’ll find people griping about all sort of things, but a lot of it will be about the food. It seems to be some sort of status symbol nowadays, to talk disdainfully about “chain restaurant food.” Maybe I’m too easy to please, but I don’t understand this sort of ingratitude. It’s as if people become desensitized to abundance, and caught in a cycle of perpetual discontent, always demanding more in either quantity or quality.
The next time I find myself griping about something that many people only dream of having (such as a car, a trip, food on the table, or the health to enjoy any of it) I want to remind myself of all the ways I should feel thankful. That I could afford to buy whatever it is. That I was able to see, hear, taste or otherwise enjoy it. That I was able to make the time in my day, and in my life, to obtain and benefit from it. I could go on, but you get the idea.
I’ve talked with Jeff many times about gratitude, and how I’m almost superstitious about it. I always have the feeling that if I’m not grateful for what I have, it will be taken away from me. Perhaps this attitude springs, in part, from an old folk tale that made a huge impression on me at a very young age.
Nevertheless, the importance of living with a grateful heart cannot be overestimated. I find that when I fully appreciate something, it’s easier to let go of it when the time comes. If I feel and express thankfulness for someone I love while they are still present in my life, I will have fewer regrets for my negligence later, and less sorrow over the loss when we are parted.
Our lives right now are so unpredictable that I have no idea what will be going on in two weeks when this is published. However, I can say with confidence that regardless of what is happening in your life or mine, we all share one thing in common: there will be many things for which we can and should feel thankful. Please join me today in feeling, and more importantly, expressing, sincere gratitude!
One year ago today: