The Attitude of Gratitude

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Friends, it’s Thanksgiving time in America — time to raise the praise, pass the platter, and remember that it is mostly gravy for you and me on this rocky little planet. And this is Scoop with my annual list of perceived blessings.

First of all, looking back at history, I feel deep gratitude for living in this place at this time, on the fertile continent of Turtle Island in this era of unprecedented freedom and abundance. Remember, just a few generations ago most of our ancestors were peasants and had to sleep in the same room as their farm animals. They had to live without painkillers, mobile devices, or Velcro. And they hardly had any fun at all aside from learning a few folk songs — “Dum diddle iddle-iddle, dum diddle aye.”

And just think, in only the past two hundred years we have nearly doubled the average human lifespan. So you now get twice as long to be yourself. And that brings me to gratitude for being in my 7th decade of life and still capable of falling in love every time I walk down the street.

In the attitude of gratitude, I will give thanks for the tool-making genius of our species that has created our new global brain – into which I have reluctantly plugged a bunch of my synapses.  And I will even give a moderate amount of thanks for my mega-giga-pixilated ap-loaded gee-wiz ram-Ram laptop and neo-cortex extender — with the oh my! wi-fi zip-fly and multi-force graphic blaster — even though I don’t have a clue how it all works, or what it could possibly mean in the course of human history.

Meanwhile friends, we can surely all give thanks for the opposable thumb! Without it just think how difficult it would be to button your pants. Or give a thumbs up.  But of course, we now know the real reason for our opposable thumb, and that is – “the better to text with, my dear.”

But there are so many solid reasons to have the attitude of gratitude friends. For instance, let’s all give thanks for living in an interglacial period. You know, getting caught in an Ice Age could ruin your whole day.

I also give thanks that so far today I have not been hit by any falling “space-junk”

I also feel gratitude for the more existential blessings.  Like the pictures from the Hubble telescope showing us newly discovered galaxies — and super-nova exploding — and to realize that just one hundred years ago we knew of only one galaxy in the universe. The latest estimate is that there are one hundred to two hundred billion galaxies, containing thirty to fifty billion trillion suns. And I got to know about that in my lifetime! Sometimes it makes me feel insignificant, but at other times I become infused with wonder at the size and the mystery of this universe that I’ve been born into and of which I am a part.

And get this: the astronomers are now estimating — based on information from the Kepler space telescope — that there are millions of other planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone that could support life. It is starting to look extremely likely that there is life all over the universe, and I think this is really good news. If there is other life in the universe it takes the pressure off of us — we no longer have to carry the entire burden of meaning in the cosmos! Whew! We can finally relax.

And as you settle deeper into your seat, you might well give thanks for gravity – because right now all of us are hurling through space on this tiny rock, spinning around on the earth’s axis at a thousand miles an hour, and orbiting the sun at 66 thousand miles an hour. And thanks to gravity, you don’t even have to hold on. Can’t you feel that space wind on your face! What a ride!

I also give deep thanks for living in a time and place where all the world’s wisdom and cultures are available to us. So now I can practice Buddha’s blissful meditation in the morning, and then go out and listen to hot Latin music at night. “Let me hear you say ‘om, cha cha cha.’ Ah hum.”

And of course, friends, I cannot forget to offer thanks for the divine substances – the coffee bean, the cocoa bean, the grape, the malt, and of course, the sweetness of the cane and the hive.

And finally, the one thing I give thanks for almost every day of my life, is the fact that I live by the San Francisco Bay, bordered by the great ocean on one side, and the majestic granite mountains on the other, both visible on a clear day from the East Bay hills. And just to the east the richest farmland in the world, and just to the north the hills reminiscent of Italy or Greece, growing nuts and grapes and olives… and in the middle of it all, the magic metropolis; the dream-like town at the edge of the world. Thank you San Francisco, for being San Francisco.

The list could go on and on friends, and you can make your own – but start out by joining me in the attitude of gratitude – for this next breath. Ahhhh! It is the mystery of life itself moving through you. We only get about 13 million breaths in a lifetime, and then maybe none at all for the rest of eternity, so dig this one. Go deep and taste it.

And this is Scoop, encouraging you all to give thanks all around whenever you can.  Love this world, because only if you love it, will you find the energy to preserve its life and beauty.  So bow deeply to the mystery inside and all around you… and if you don’t like the news go out and make some of your own.

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