On Gratitude

October 1, 2009 · 4 comments

I’m grateful that I read spiritual literature.  It’s not the only thing I read, nor is it my favorite thing to read, but I’m always in the middle of something.  If you read yesterday’s post, you know I’ve been reading The Spirituality of Imperfection.  I’m also working on D.T. Suzuki’s Zen Buddhism, but I’m going to pass on getting into some nitty-gritty mind-effing this evening.

So there I was a few minutes ago: flipping through facebook and waiting for my dinner to heat up.  And thinking about girls and such.  Getting all up in my own head about being single.  Again.  Never fear, no whining will issue forth from me on that particular topic this evening.

Because as soon as my dinner was done, I sat down to eat and read and read this:

Our culture seems on the verge of losing the meaning of the experience of gratitude, in part because we have lost all sense of “gift.”  Our ritual occasions of giving, from the traditional birthdays and anniversaries to the industry-created special days for everyone from grandparents to secretaries, mean that thee is always handy some occasion to give “a gift” – with the result that a true gift is never given.  For a gift is something freely and spontaneously given.  A true gift is inspired rather than occasioned.  (p. 176)

Boy, I’ll tell ya, that really struck a chord with me.  I couldn’t possibly agree more.  In fact, that puts into words my exact feelings on the subject – feelings I’ve given voice to on multiple occasions.

I am NOT a flowers-for-valentine’s-day kind of guy.  Don’t get me wrong, 2/14 shows up and I have a valentine, she gets some effin flowers.  Oh yeah.  For me, that’s just one of a million possible reasons to give flowers.  But the obligatoriness of the Hallmark-holiday takes something away from the giving for me.

I AM a flowers-for-no-particular-reason kind of guy.  I’m a “hey, here’s that golf club or book or cd you were eyeballing last week” kind of guy.  For dogs and kittens:  I don’t just give gifts to girls.

I believe that adding an obligation detracts from the actual gift-giving and -receiving.  I’m infinitely more grateful for a gift given “just because” than I am for a birthday present.  I could give a sh*t about holidays and such – trying to pick out christmas presents is a pain in the ass for me.  I don’t wait for holidays to give gifts, I give them whenever it seems appropriate.  There’s nothing like seeing the light that comes to someone’s eyes when I present them with something out of the blue.  Mind you, I’m no altruist:  the giving and the light make me feel good.

Anyway, I’m grateful that I read those words this evening.  It took me out of my head and I’m not quite as melancholy as I would be, had I read about two fictional characters falling in love for the first time or someone with some kick-ass magic under his belt unleashing it on a deserving evildoer.

It’s time for me to put together a gratitude list.  How ’bout you?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria October 1, 2009 at 09:52

Yeah I completely agree about the gifts just because those seem more meaningful because you had no true intention of ever receiving anything in return. Flowers just because mean more to me than oh its valentines day so I am obligated to give these things. Nah I think flowers just because its thursday or hey here is that book she has been rambling about wanting but never buys…or that song that reminds me of her that I think she would enjoy…That stuff means far more than just because of a holiday. Gah if only other people considered those things…Holiday gift giving is always a pain…but what do you do…

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Jim October 1, 2009 at 11:31

well said, Ted:)

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Being Samiantha October 1, 2009 at 11:40

Valentines Day is a crock.

Try reading this blog, I think you’ll enjoy it, spirital enlightment.

http://www.freshnessfactorfivethousand.blogspot.com/
It’s actually Jason Mraz’s blog. Very deep and thought provoking at times. Very non musician in this blog.

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Elizabeth October 5, 2009 at 14:58

I may have to look that book up… that excerpt was full of truth. I’ve always loved giving a present ‘just because.’

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