American Thanksgiving is upon us. I came across a column suggesting that the things that we are truly thankful for are things we believe in. It asked readers to respond, not with thanks, but with statements of belief.
In recent years I have felt my beliefs shattered by various tolls my life has collected and it would have been much easier for me to drum up a simple thank you for something inconsequential than find and declare a heartfelt belief. This in itself is disturbing on reflection. So, I struggled with this one, and here is that struggle:
I Believe . . .
I believe in the healing power of cartoons, of childlike glee in stories, in colour, in magic, in possibility.
I believe in the beauty of solitude, the fortitude of good friends and the curative bloom generated by intimacy. I believe in abiding resilience during the absence of solitude, good friends and intimacy.
I believe milk is not only an excellent source of nutrition but also soul pleasing manna from the gods. Only fools relegate it to children.
I believe Jazz encompasses the neediest depths of subversion and the loftiest cries to the Numen. I believe Jazz will always speak to me when words have failed.I believe Jazz holds when my circle is broken.
I believe we, humanity collected, are nigh on either a revolution of cooperative austerity or else a nightmare of violent competition in proportions that history has never imagined.
I believe taking my crap out on others spreads a virulent malaise, and that the slightest gesture I make in compassion or even amiability is a twice as virulent benevolence. I believe this is important to remember when considering whether to smile in any situation.
I believe Trickster is exquisitely comfortable in the paradox of guiding me to be a better self while at the same time constantly tossing me to the wolves for entertainment's sake. I believe Trickster doesn't hold with karma (just as well in my instance) but does believe in the instructive nature of serendipity, mischief, satire, graveyard humour and the intrinsic value of every pathway. I believe Trickster always has time to either snicker at me or pick me up, or both. I believe He never gives up and for all his tomfoolery, he never casts judgment.
I believe in endurance. People say fail and fail again at worthy tasks. I say, there is no shame in beckoning off of pain and suffering, yet, if I should happen to keep plodding there is always such curious wonder to experience in failure or success. If through even no fault of my own, I come through a storm, I hold riches to lay before me and carry into the next storm.
I believe that the lowly ant that turns our soil and the lowly plankton that conjures our atmosphere are far more important than our legends and myths, and infinitely more important than our politics and economics. I pray we honour them and not snuff them out.
I believe music both relieves me of my emotional turmoil and opens doorways to me when I have cloistered myself from such vital meaning. Music is the easiest thing I can point to to support a spiritual argument.
I believe, at the greater scale, our policies must be long sighted and sometimes difficult, even unpopular, while at the intimate level we all ought be compassionate and share in both success and grief. I believe we can neither escape the difficulties of life nor the constraints of space, but we can choose wisely for the people that will call us ancestors, while acknowledging the people who live today.
I believe a plant in my room that I need to water occasionally might mean the difference between my life and death during prolonged periods of depression or isolation. I believe this offers me an instance to think of the power of plants and how they connect to me. I believe that without plants, my feelings would very quickly be moot.
I believe in dancing; dancing for love and for frustration and for anger and for God and for sex and for boredom and for exercise, but not for protest or meaningful political discourse. I believe if you can move, or imagine moving and in your mind you can hear two sticks banging together, then you can dance for a myriad of reasons or none at all. I believe it is a mistake, like fashion or theatre or easy slogans to consider dance as a weapon of social change. Social change is not a byproduct of my entertainment, but dance might sustain me during ugly times as long as when I am not dancing I attend to matters.
I believe in dogs. They have been our partners in survival for 40 000 years. I believe we need to listen to them even more than we need to love them.
I believe wood grain, shell matrices and stone strata contain more beauty than architecture.
I believe learning to grow food really enriches me, yet frightens me about how lazy and disconnected I am. I believe I might probably never grow food again alone, but it is within my small mind to imagine doing so within a connected group and perhaps that is worth noting for what it tells me.
I believe that when I reach the point in life that I am upon meeting my vision of a maker, I will reflect on a great many things. Whole paradigms will shift. Regrets will be visceral. In this moment, if I get to really see my entire life before my eyes in candid detail, I might rethink a great many things. Every time I take a few minutes to try and imagine this scenario I will be gifted with the greatest wealth ever, and have the opportunity to rethink my next few actions.
I believe the cult of actualization, esteem and personal satisfaction look really excellent on paper but paper burns away in an instant while service, sharing and bonding are instantaneously immortal.
I believe that calling in sick on a rainy day and snugging into bed with comfort food and a well loved book is quite a bit more meaningful than most of what I usually fill my day with. This tells me that every day I need to think about how to shift the balance, not toward comfort, but toward meaning. I have just my sole voice to rail against my own complacence. It is worth listening to.
I believe I neglect bounty and wisdom and I forsake truly wondrous opportunities because I allow myself to be consumed by places I wish I hadn’t been, places I think I ought be, and places I think I should one day arrive at. I redouble the ferocity of these crippling mental maps with fear and shame and only occasionally resist. I believe my best moments are when I let all that go and respond to the world spontaneously, even though whenever I do so, I feel a bowel loosening fear. In retrospect, risk has trumped fear every time, in value(for the record).
I believe one day, before I die, the way I feel right now will be a distant memory that I reflect on with more experience. Will I smile at my journey, or will I have chosen paths that fuel regret?