Monday, October 14, 2013

Gaining "Sight" On What I Am Grateful For

Today is a day where we celebrate everything in our lives that makes us give thanks. I’ve had a couple of experiences as of late that made me really stop and think of what exactly I’m grateful for. Where do I start? The question of “What are you thankful for in life?” is almost impossible to answer without it sounding like a cliche. So, how DO I answer that exactly?

Of course, I think I have THE most wonderful parents. Do they make me crazy? Yes! But I love them with all my heart. We’re a small but mighty family, if you will--extremely close and we truly enjoy each other’s company for certain periods of time (I’m just saying what everyone is thinking about when they spend too much time with their family). My Dad just went through a major operation that made me realize exactly how mortal we are and that we are not here for an endless period of time and moreover, how important it is to always let each other know how you feel. Some people don’t have any family at all, and if they do, they may be treated horribly or have been abandoned by them. I feel very lucky to have the family that I do.

I have also been blessed with a beautiful daughter who faces life with the adversity of autism. She is the bravest and most incredible person I know. This is someone who has taught me the true meaning of compassion and understanding, which transcends to the rest of my world, and has helped me become the person I am. How fortunate am I to be her mother.

I also literally don’t know what I would do without the amazing friends I have. My friends have come into my life at different times, and I cherish them all, because to me, they are an extension of my family and I would be lost without them. I have a favourite saying: “The best things in life aren’t things.” To me, they are the people and experiences in my life that make me who I am and always make me strive to be a better person. I think of all the “things” I have and yes, naturally I enjoy my wardrobe with the plethora of clothes, handbags, and shoes in it. I love my home and all the comforts I’ve put into call it a home. I like using all my gadgets, driving my car, and taking trips. I work hard to have those “things” and it’s all great, don’t get me wrong BUT if you took everything away from me, at the end day--just give me my family and my friends.

Mmmm...wait just a moment. Maybe there are a few other things I am thankful for now that I think about it. And it was this experience that took me to that stage of recognition:

My friend Sheila was kind enough to take me out for dinner on my birthday a few weeks back. We collaborated on where we wanted to go, and agreed upon a restaurant called Dark Table. This restaurant concept is all over the world and is quite a unique dining experience. Why? Well, you eat your meal in absolute and total darkness--it’s literally pitch black. No light of any sort. So, just to clarify, you do order your food ahead of time where you can see the menu. Your server (all the servers are visually impaired) meets you at the door outside and then you follow him or her into the restaurant or rather into the abyss as I like to say. No joke, you can’t see a thing.

After the server guided us to our table and we were finally seated, we had to feel around to see where everything was--it was very, very weird. It sounded like a normal restaurant, with other patrons chatting away and music in the background. When it came to buttering my bread, I didn’t spread it properly, so I ate the whole pad of butter in one go...ick! I could not for the life of me figure out what the hell the appetizer was. Given there is no “feeling” at the end of a utensil, I almost shoved four ravioli up my nose and couldn’t tell if I even finished my plate of food. I kept putting an empty spoon up to my mouth during dessert. It’s funny, because everyone was eating in the dark and no one could see me, I started to relax to the point where I was licking the seasoning salt quite vivaciously off the glass of my caesar. I also finally used my fingers to eat the dessert purely out of frustration.

From a sensory perspective, I realized exactly how much I rely on my vision to help me enjoy food. The food was good, but there was something missing from the experience--I get visual pleasure out of seeing what I am about to eat (most of the time). I also use my vision to help me think--I felt kind of stupid and lost not only while poking around for my food, but just in general. I could hear Sheila’s voice, but couldn’t see her facial expressions or her body language--things I often use to pick up non-verbal cues when communicating. I did become totally and utterly relaxed after the meal, but logic would dictate that after eating big meal while sitting in complete darkness, one would just want to fall asleep right then and there in the chair. Outside of upsetting the person you’re with, what would stop you?

The perfect ending to this experience was when we left. Our server came to get us up from the table--Sheila was behind me and I was behind him, or so I thought. I walked right into him and he was actually facing me. Awkward moment? Of course not! We just hugged for a bit...closely (interestingly enough that seems to be my modus operandi these days). And just as we were about to enter back into the land of the seeing, I gave the server one last hug and a peck on the cheek, and there it was--my sight was back in all it’s glory.  How fortunate were we to know that after dinner, we would have our sight again.

And there you have it. Outside of friends and family, I am eternally grateful and thankful for my health--to have all my senses fully functional. I can see all the bright and bold colours of the autumn leaves on the trees right now. I can hear the beautiful sound of my daughter’s voice when she says “I love you Mom”. I can touch and hold my Grandma’s hand, a hand that helped me learn how to crochet and cook. I can taste the salt on my skin when I swim freely in the open ocean. I have everything and recognize that every day.

And lastly, we can’t forget the sense that is not so “common”...

There is so much good in this world, and so much of the time, it gets masked by the bad. I am perhaps one of the few people on this planet who doesn’t have cable, and I love it. I also choose not to watch the news (I keep tabs with the on-line financial news only due to my job in the financial industry) and I like it that way. I receive good news stories through social media channels like Twitter or Facebook, where I can surround myself with all the beautiful happiness that is out there. Someone said to me once that I’m just sticking my head in the sand, and yes, perhaps I am to some degree. Much of what the Dalai Lama does resonates with me and I do the same. He said that in a difficult situation, he recognizes the tragedy within it, feels the pain of it for a moment, and then lets it go. I do recognize the bad that goes on around me and in the world, and I do feel the hurt, the pain, the suffering for that person, animal, etc., but then I let it go. I never hang on to it, because it doesn’t help to do that. I find other ways to help the situation instead, if I can (I’ll be writing a blog post on homelessness shortly that explains this concept in greater detail).

Every single person has the ability to be loving, kind, compassionate and understanding to our fellow humans, and to all living things (except spiders and snakes...just kidding, or am I?), including our mother Earth. It’s a choice--I’ve seen and heard of people who have faced extreme adversity in their lives only to overcome those odds and become a better person. I am so grateful for being able to recognize that I am not the center of the universe, and that I can do so much to help the lives of those around me. That might not seem like a typical thing to be grateful for, but as you may already have discovered, I am light years from typical.

Happy Thanksgiving!

No comments:

Post a Comment