Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Simplest and Most Profound Expression of Gratitude

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is our favorite quote of gratitude. Mine is very simple - and profound enough that it's shaped much of my life.


No, not why is it simple and profound, etc. The quote is exactly that:


I learned this from my favorite college professor, who was also my major adviser in Comparative Religious Studies. (He identified as a non-practicing Orthodox Jew, which - if you know much about Judaism - tells you pretty much everything you need to know about him.) He said that our tendency as human beings is to question misfortune. When we get sick, or a loved one dies, or some other terrible misfortune befalls us, we turn our eyes to the heavens and ask why?
Why me?

Why them?

Why did this have to happen?

But, when good fortune comes our way - when we succeed in our efforts, when the people we love are still there when the next day arrives, even when we continue to be healthy and able-bodied - we don't ask why. We don't beseech the heavens with questions like:

Why am I so lucky to be healthy?

Why do I have such a comfortable life?

Why do these wonderful people and animals love so much?

This came as a huge revelation to my 18-year old self, and I have to remind myself constantly to ask those questions. It's a profound exercise in gratitude to look at my life and question why I'm so very blessed.
Along with this comes questioning my success as an author. It's easy to focus on my failures, to bemoan why I don't get everything I set out to do. Even easier is to congratulate myself for success, as if it's entirely due to my own efforts, rather than serendipity. So, I'm giving particular thanks for these badges of great fortune. UNDER A WINTER SKY has done brilliantly this week, and I couldn't be more grateful.

In this case, I don't have to ask why, because I know it's because of all of you. Thank you. 


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