Every Thanksgiving, I remind myself of the many blessings in my life, but while doing that, somewhere in a secret corner of my mind, I also list the many more things I could have been thankful for. Such thoughts aren’t strong enough to spoil the mood, nor am I ungrateful enough to verbalize them, but they’re there and for once, I’ve decided to pour them out.
This reminds me of something I had heard a few years after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Following a variety of sanctions and restrictions, Iranians experienced a horrible economy combined with a huge shortage and I heard over and over from incoming passenger about how unbearable life in Iran had become. A friend told me this story.
Her father, a retired cardiologist, who had lived half his life in Europe and had seen the world, upon hearing everyone’s usual complaints said, “I don’t understand what you’re talking about. In my eighty-some years of life, I’ve never seen our nation happier!” And when she asked him how could he possibly call the miserable people around him ‘happy’, her father laughed and said, “Sure. Look at how many times a day they feel absolute happiness. Take the shortage of chicken for example. There’s none in the market, but then suddenly a truck shows up with some and I don’t think anyone can be happier than those who get their hands on a sick little skinny chicken! Or soap. There’s none. But when a shipment arrives, we’re the happiest nation on earth. This applies to everything and happens every day. Indeed, in all the centuries of our glorious history, this nation has never experienced more happiness!”
This humorous story goes to show that sometimes we are grateful for what we have because the alternative could prove even more unbearable. It’s Thanksgiving and I don’t want it to go to waste, so I’m sitting here and making my list of thanks based on what else could have been.
1- I am grateful for my bodily functions. I don’t call it “good health”, not after eleven major surgeries or surviving cancer, not when I’m on seven different medications, not if I still have that one clogged artery. I try not to think about the car accident that told my right knee it had played enough tennis. No, I try to remain positive and think about how lucky I am to be able to breathe, eat, sleep, and especially the simple fact that I’m not in need of adult diapers, yet!
2- I am grateful for the bounty of food on my table. Okay, I agree, I could eat less. Forty pounds earlier I, too, used to watch my diet, but thanks to a variety of food channels and all the TV commercials, I am suddenly conscious of many wonderful treats and, what if the world suddenly does end? Besides, who can guarantee that my next tah-deeg will turn out this good?
3- I am deeply grateful for the Islamic revolution. Having been a US citizen years prior to that, I used to feel homesick and sometimes felt quite out of place. Little did I know that God would send a revolution to make all my friends and relatives immigrate to the West. That He would actually ship most of my loved ones to the US and give me a crowd to skip visiting at Norooz. That not only could I buy Kashk and Zereshk from the corner store, but there’d come a day when I would be sick of chelo-kabob. That, while many of us continue to struggle with English, Persian would suddenly rank among the five top foreign languages in this country and become the spoken tongue of Westwood.
4- I am grateful for world peace. Well, maybe not all the world, but at least the Fox News world. I mean, yes, we’ve sent our sons and daughters to give their lives for those less fortunate and, given a chance, we may not hesitate to start yet another war, but you’d never know that while shopping at Nordstrom or sipping coffee at Starbucks.
5- And finally, I am grateful for George W. Bush because, as I often tell my children, all bad things happen for a good reason. Okay, maybe eight years was too much, and yes, there’s now more to deal with than any president ever bargained for, but if God wanted the world to be so perfect there would be no evil to begin with. I’m grateful that like Rumi, we too, became weary of the evil around us, took the lamp, and circled the city in search of a “true human”, and that we have found what was presumed obsolete.
May our world be blessed with more to be thankful for, may all the bad things in life have a good outcome, and may your thanksgiving be the best it can be.