On Guilt & Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, like most other days, I’m thankful for all the big things that are so commonplace they seem little: my family; all the wonderful people I’ve met (that includes you, Mountain View REI staff!); and the struggle and sacrifice of all those who came before me, of those who continue the struggle today, and those who will continue to work towards justice and peace tomorrow.

Since we moved up to Washington, I’ve had to find myself again. This process of discovering and rediscovering who I am is self-renewing, and while sometimes it starts feeling old and tiring, the truth is that I hope it never stops. I hope to always be striving towards a better version of myself.

That said, I also regularly contend with feelings of guilt. I feel like I’ve dropped the ball. Outside of undergrad, I don’t feel like I have to fight so hard all the time. I get to be comfortable around other people. I’m allowing myself to feel like I can just be. This is largely freeing, but it’s double-edged. I haven’t been protesting. I haven’t even been reading history or theory. My satisfaction in just being is currently bound to an exhaustion so thorough that sometimes I can’t even speak. But that exhaustion has given me the space to enjoy all of things I used to take for granted: the feeling of air moving in and out of my lungs, the studied loosening of my muscles, the kindness of the people around me. In a way, I feel like I am living what I read about in school—embodying phenomenological ethics. And what really amazes me about living like this is how foundational it is. How did I not see, for all of these years, that before history or theory or critical papers on current events there has to be this. This foundation of spirituality and a deep, expansive questioning of the way one chooses to be in this world.

I don’t know if this process will leave me any richer. It seems greedy to ask for more when I already have so much. So I’m willing to take what I’m given and ask that my heart stays open to all the unexpected things this life has to offer.

And every day I try to be mindfully thankful for all of the work, all of the heartache, all of the love that this land, all people, and God have provided me, because they all are responsible for where and who I am today.

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