Thanksgiving and waking up from a bad dream

We all have many things to be grateful for on Thanksgiving, even if the Thanksgiving story we tell our children is probably mostly bullshit.  Yes, local Native Americans may have shown up with gifts and taught the Pilgrims how to survive the winter in the New World (which was to the natives just the world).   Yes, there may have been generosity shown toward the extreme religious fanatic Puritan Europeans.  The rest, as they say, is history.  A history that can only make us feel bad (as fact deniers always insist), so let us feel good about the things we, personally, have to be thankful for.

When you wake up from a bad dream and see that you are still there, unharmed, that it was only a dream, it is a great relief.  You can feel the well-being of waking from a nightmare throughout your body.  Like you dodged a bullet.   Damn thing could have killed me!   But it didn’t, thank God, it was only a dream.  You wake up to a better day as you shake off the bad dream.

Sometimes things we love in our lives, relationships that go back many years, curdle, turn poisonous.  You try your best to fix them, maybe try beyond the point of reason sometimes.  When you see you can’t fix it, that your efforts to resolve the conflict are not being reciprocated in any way — it is time to stop trying to fix it.  You can only do your part, when there are others involved.  If you do your part and still face hostility, denial, anger and blame then accept the proof that something that was once easy, and fun, and mutually beneficial, is not that way any longer.   Otherwise there will be hard work, on your end, and then, when you’ve done that hard work, even harder work, and after that, harder work still.   At a certain point you have to admit defeat, you cannot change what cannot be changed.  Wake up and smell the future.

The future smells different, something familiar that you loved very much is gone.  This is a sadly familiar human reality, it happens with every death of a loved one, happens to us all and to those we must leave.  Since change is the only constant in life, do not mourn those painful things you have to let go while everyone is alive, beyond the initial period when you are processing the sadness of a death during life.  It is a tragedy, yes, but no worse than a terrible dream, if you have truly done everything in your power to fix what is unbearably broken.  

If you want a little sweetness to make the bitter medicine go down easier, consider that all real growth is accompanied by pain, or at least great discomfort.   You have passed the point of discomfort into pain, and have continued forward with good will in spite of the cost to youself.  Be consoled by your effort and don’t fault yourself for not doing the miraculous.  You exerted yourself to your limits and that is more than most people do.   Take comfort from that.

Part of gratefulness, I think, is recognizing that it is good to finally see a terrible thing you have been unwilling or unable to see for a long time and accepting it as it actually is.  You sleep better once you make peace with something that seems too horrible to imagine.  Better sleep leads to only good things.  Like more gratefulness.

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