Recently, I came across an essay that I wrote in my high school creative writing class called "Thankful for What." It was an ode to our family Thanksgiving dinner and rife full of sarcasm, too-cool-for-school anecdotes, and some good ole teenage angst. I cringed a bit as I read it. You see, I was a bit of a little ingrate back then. Blame it on the hormones. Or, perhaps years of Catholic school and protective parents finally manifesting into rebellion as I slowly tip-toed towards adulthood. (Incidentally, sorry Mom and Dad. I love you!)
In reading this "interesting" work of mine, I couldn't help but be shocked at how much I've grown and changed over the past 20 years. Today's "Thankful for What" would be so different: a million miles long and completely heartfelt and sincere, peace-loving yoga girl that I am. No sarcasm or angst in sight.
In fact, the current "me" was just shedding tears on the couch whilst watching an episode of MasterChef Jr with the family. One of the little girls on the show said she would donate her $100k to charity if she won. My heart swooned by the touching sentiment and flowing tears were the manifestation of this emotion. Then, another one of the kid contestants started to have a meltdown under the pressure of her mashed potatoes being too salty. I saw my own sweet little girls in her. I even saw myself in her. Waterworks.
From ultra-angst to ultra-softy in a couple of decades?
Interestingly enough, we are all constantly metamorphosing. In both a physical and spiritual sense. On a physical plane, our cells are continuously regenerating. Out with the old and in with the new. Our entire body is made up of cells. So, quite literally, the body we inhabit today is physically different than the body of years ago.
On a spiritual level, we are also constantly evolving. Our life is a series of lessons and opportunities for growth. We are being prepared to step into our highest good. Our true calling. Purpose. Destiny. Whatever you want to call it. If we become an open vessel to actually receiving and processing these messages, our limitless potential can be realized. Our spiritual journey involves a tremendous amount of opening up and awakening by un-learning and releasing our old baggage and fears. The more layers we shed, the closer we get to our truth.
Now, as a mature and wiser woman with a beautiful family of my own, I can accept my past for what it was: opportunities to evolve into the person I am meant to be. Still, I can't help but wonder what my young daughters will be like in their teenage years? I do my best to build them up, teach them about unconditional love, and to help guide them to truth, to living their own dreams (not the one the world wants them to live). I share with them tools such as yoga, meditation, breath work, gratitude and journaling. Perhaps this will save them from their own angst and having to peel back the layers later in life. Or, perhaps that's just a rite of passage we must all go through.
The point of this is that no matter where we've come from, what lurks in our past -- there is always room to grow and evolve. In fact, these life circumstances most likely occurred for the very reason of that transformation occurring. In my own history, I can clearly see the shift of the pendulum. And, I rather enjoy being on the other side of it. The title of this post is "Thankful for what?" And, that answer is: thankful for everything. Because, even in those God awful, wretched, horrible moments of our life (yes, we all have them), our soul was deep inside, rooting for us to come out on the other side, inching closer to our destiny.
In each of our paths to enlightenment, we must take care to expand our minds. Read, learn, grow. See a different perspective. Open up to possibility. We must also nourish our souls: participate in those activities that make our hearts swell with love. You know the ones. Perhaps something that you haven't done in a really long time? Maybe its time to start again. And most of all, fully accept your past, but then fully release it. Believe in your future, but hold on to that vision ever so lightly and don't become too attached to the outcome. Both getting caught in a mental vortex of reliving the past and becoming overly attached to what is going to happen in the future are the root of much, much suffering. Realize that each precious moment, as it comes, is where life is lived. True peace, harmony, and power comes from being in the now.
Life. Fast-forward 20 years from when the original angst-filled satirical Thanksgiving piece was written and how lovely would it be to have just one more meal for old times sake. You see, two of the family members at that small table (my brother and my uncle) are no longer on this precious earth and, of course, missed dearly. Life is short. But sweet. Be thankful for it all. And, be an open vessel to the deeper meaning of it. Enjoy the journey and transformation. That's where the really juicy stuff happens and life begins.