The first draft of this post started with some very pointed observations about the US in November 2016 and how it’s a little hard to focus on gratitude right now. It was kind of a downer, to be honest, which is not really the vibe any of us wants right now. So consider it all said. Here’s some useful links to “survival guides” and things you can do. Now on to the gratitude.
Even in a difficult situation, focusing on gratitude is a good way to look at the positive things I have to be grateful for. Tonight, this will be a good topic to reflect on as I’m dancing and as I’m meditating.
But gratitude isn’t the only thing I’ll be reflecting on. As Baratunde Thurston says ““The biggest problem in this world? Too much empathy,” said no one, ever.” So tonight will be a balance between gratitude and empathy.
And why wait for tonight? Might as well get started now!
Most of all I’m grateful for my family and friends. Family and friends always top my gratitude list, and this year I’m even more conscious of how thankful I am that we do our best to live our shared values, and support each other in difficult situations. And there’s also all the usual reasons, things I hope I never take for granted: the happiness you bring into my life, the good times we’ve had together, the great advice you give, the friendship and love we share, the way so many of you inspire me. Thanks to all of you … and extra special super double-and-triple thanks with a gold star to those of you who are in my “inner circle”. I think you’re swell 🙂
Balancing my appreciation for all of that wonderfulness … there are so many heartbreaking stories of people having to deal with bigoted and hateful friends and family, or well-meaning friends and family who are willing to overlook bigotry and hatred, or even friends and family who try to be supportive but keep saying things “i wish you wouldn’t be like that” or “your life would be a lot easier and safer if you acted more like how people ‘should’ act”.
My heart goes out to everybody in situations like that. I don’t have any great advice for you; there’s no one right answer about what to do. But I hope that each of you finds the strength to cut the ties that are harmful to you and endure the downsides of the ties you decide to keep – and that you find friends and family who appreciate and support you for who you are.
Moving beyond my friends and family, there are a few other groups particularly in my mind, with equal measure of gratitude (for everything you do, for me and the for the world) and empathy (because I know how difficult it can be and how many unfair things you have to deal with). In no particular order:
- civil rights, civil liberties, racial justice, LGBTQ, feminist, womanist, social justice, and human rights advocates, organizers, and activists here and around the world – and in particular the women of color who are leading so many of these efforts.
- what I think of is the “diversity-in-tech” community: the people committed to an intersectional, inclusive approach to diversity in technology and society as a whole
- the Fortune Circle, and the broader Tarot community, especially for helping me learn about balance, surrender (in the positive sense!), and the power of archetypes and intuition
- Optyvists, and everybody working to co-create a positive, transformational, and sustainable future
- tapestry makers, for everything – with an extra helping of empathy for all the stuff you put up with, sorry about that, it’s on the list of things to fix one of these days!
- everybody I’m working to advance the causes we care about and the values we believe in
When I think about it, almost all my friends are in one or more of these groups. So I’m also very thankful for the opportunities to hang out in these circles and make new friends 🙂
Of course, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more to be grateful for and a lot more to empathize with. This post has gone on long enough already, though, and pretty soon I need to get to work on the traditional Thanksgiving paella! So now’s a good time to wrap things up.
To whoever’s reading this, I hope there are things in your life that you too are thankful for; if so, take a moment (or longer) to reflect on them. And as well as empathizing with people less fortunate than you, have some empathy for yourself as well – which includes taking care of yourself and paying attention to your own needs and desires as well as everybody else’s.
Also published on Medium.