I am just back from a retreat at The Chopra Center in San Diego. David Simon, MD the co-founder of The Chopra Center and Deepak Chopra’s partner is dying from a brain tumor and he is not yet 60. He was very weak – but came to talk to us on the last day of our retreat. David had some messages for us on how to live our life – and his biggest message was to celebrate every day. To see and hear a man whose own life is being tragically cut short talk about celebrating life in the midst of great sadness was an incredible experience. I went home with a renewed commitment to doing just that no matter what is going on in my life – I am alive and have this day.
Celebrating Thanksgiving for me this year is easy. I have a lot to give thanks for – even though there are some big disappointments and challenges in my life. After all – what life does not have big disappointments and challenges as well as those big happy moments?
For me – my own infertility is long behind me. My two IVF babies are now young men – and I am loving the men that they have become. I have just published my first book and I am in the midst of writing a second. But the truth is that I have not always felt this way at Thanksgiving.
There have been Thanksgiving’s where I have been in the midst of an IVF cycle or on the tails of a failed one. There have been holidays when I really didn’t know my future and life felt uncertain. It was hard to move through that sadness and discomfort and embrace being with family and friends – and put a smile on my face.
I tend to mark time with the changing seasons. In an unpredictable world, some things still cycle around with unbroken clarity. The pumpkins, apples, crisp air and fat turkeys signal a time for celebration, and whether we feel like celebrating or not, automatically, the world begins to prepare to give thanks for this season of the world’s unbroken cycle.
But if you are struggling with infertility, illness, unemployment or family disruptions, it can feel like you are not a part of mother’s nature’s cycle of renewal. And that can bring sadness, and a feeling of isolation. Sometimes it helps just to know that you are not alone. That other people are feeling just like you.
This year, if you are sitting down to the holiday table with troubles and pain, you may think that your neighbors are able to enjoy this holiday dance of celebration with ease, but everyone has struggles. Every where there is some one with just your troubles feeling just as you do. We are never alone.
Sometimes, the change of seasons reminds us of our dreams and our disappointments. Our goals yet unfilled. Harvest time, when we don’t feel fruitful. Family gatherings when we fear tears welling up at the mere mention of anything.
Yet I know, that you will feel the brisk air, and it will feel good. You will notice a scarlet tree and admire its flamboyance. You will see little children running and allow yourself a minute of sweet longing. I know that you might look at your life through your struggles and think about daring to feel hope once again. You might even dare to be grateful for the things you have that you know are good and sweet. Find within yourself, that spot of celebration, of gratitude, of blessings. Dwell there. Your struggles will wait for you…they always do…right now…let them go.
Gather around the table and give thanks in this world that is filled with imperfections and disappointments.
Together we will gather up your dreams. Don’t let them fall like the leaves under your feet. Gather them up and cherish them. It is time to give thanks. I urge you to dare to dream and hope in a broken world that you didn’t break. I know that you will find your happiness, unique and pure. Allow yourself the hope of the harvest. You are entitled to the pie and a smile. Gather around the table and let’s give thanks for our dreams and our hope. It is certainly one way to cope with the holidays! For me – I am going to remember David Simon – and his key to living a happy life – don’t let a day go uncelebrated no matter what is going on in your life.