As I sit here listening to the rain rumble outside enjoying the rare occasion that we even get rain here in LA, I can smell turkey and spices and warmth in the air as Thanksgiving dinner cooks away. I scrolled through social media this morning and was warmed by the number of posts about gratitude and yet I also found myself lost in thought at why it takes a holiday to express our gratitude for the countless blessings we all experience. Why is it only once per year that we give thanks?
I think this was all spurred by how I spent my morning as I do on every Thanksgiving at our local Turkey Trot. Yes, I’m one of “those”people that drags every able bodied (willing or unwilling) person that joins us for Thanksgiving to the local 5K Turkey Trot at 7:30AM on a holiday. We all stood on the starting line, miserable and complaining at the cold and rain. Starting off a day of thanks by grumbling about the weather. I myself didn’t bring my usual optimistic attitude and eventually joined in on the barrage of complaints. Right before we were about to start I noticed a little girl walking up with her parents, her parent’s faces much resembling my own and yet when I looked down at her I was surprised to find…elation. She was jumping in puddles, smiling from ear to ear, soaking wet, holding her raincoat as opposed to wearing it so as to fully experience the rain and yelling “my first turkey trot, thank you so much mom and dad!” I was enamored with her, not only because her attitude so starkly opposed her adult counterparts but because she made me wonder when we lose that as adults? When do we lose that sense of childlike wonder and excitement? When does an event transform from a celebration, which this rain was for the little girl, to a problem, which is what it was for all of us adults.
I watched her for a few more minutes as she found her place at the starting line and then lost her in the crowd. I let the moment pass without second thought until we were crossing the finish line about thirty minutes later and who did I see waiting at the finish line to high five all the finishers but this little girl. Again, smiling from ear to ear, cheering everyone on, standing in the pouring rain to celebrate each and every finisher.
I couldn’t help but watch her with tears in my eyes as I realized the lesson she unintentionally taught all of us adults that day – life is the celebration. If we wait for a moment to be perfect, for a holiday to come, for everything to fall perfectly into place we’ll miss the absolute joy that is right now. What if these things that we perceive to be problems are really just reasons to be grateful? What if instead of complaining I had stepped to that starting line celebrating my health, that I am able to run, that my family and friends were there with me, that we get to play in the rain like kids? You see, the event is neutral, no event is good or bad. We choose to assign value to the event and therefore create our experience. So, what if every day, not just on this holiday, we celebrated and showed gratitude for every single moment? Because here’s the thing, that little girl and I both ran the same race that day, yet our experiences couldn’t have been more different. The truth is we’re all running the same race and yet, the experience we each have will differ depending on whether or not we’re willing to dance in the rain.