“Appreciation is an art and a lifestyle and a source of happiness and fulfillment. It’s called gratitude—an attitude of gratitude.” – Yogi Bhajan
This Thanksgiving there will be no oven-baked yams, no crisp winter air, no familiar family faces and no lounging around post-gluttinous feast. But I’m grateful for so many things even as I feel a million miles away from the American holiday season: incredible friends here and back home, adventures in travel, challenges in living and working in Southeast Asia, freedom of movement, good health, wealth (well, considering the global perspective) and options. I’ve been here for nearly a year now and my life has changed dramatically. I have been exposed to people who have so much less than I do in terms of finances, mobility, freedom, options. Even on my shittiest day, I have it pretty damn good considering the amount of conflict, poverty and oppression many people on this planet live with daily. It is easy for Americans to be cynical especially in the current socio-political climate both domestically and internationally. But it is harder to remember how good we really have it when compared to the majority of the people in the world who eke out a living doing back-breaking work day-in-and-day-out earning less than $2 USD.
Perhaps it is the faces of refugees held in camps or landmine victims in wheelchairs or street children begging for spare change or young girls working in brothels because they think they have no other option. Americans have it all even if our 401(k)s are now 201(k)s. That is not to say that everyone is without suffering and hardship in life, but somehow ours seems so much easier. Today I am grateful that I was born where I was born and that my life has allowed me the privilege to see parts of the world and to be a small agent of change along the way. Even if it meant risking everything. As I report from my local coffee shop this Thanksgiving night, feeling a bit nostalgic and perhaps tipsy from too many Bailey’s, I bid all my dear friends and loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy some stuffing for me!