Gratitude 

“Drink and be thankful to the host! What seems insignificant when you have it, is important when you need it.” – Franz Grillparzer

Often times, we take what we have or what we are given for granted. There’s this popular saying that “You never know the value of what you have untill you lose it.” We are quick to assume that what we have or what we do get is our right or entitlement. Take 20 year old Damien for instance. He believed that the money dad always gave to him was his entitlement. Whenever it seemed like his account had taken too long to be credited, he lashed out and threw a tantrum. He didn’t show gratitude for it because, rather than see it as a gift, he saw it as a right. All that changed when dad lost his job and the money stopped coming. Damien had to do odd jobs 4 days of 7, only to make less than half of what dad used to give him. That was when it dawned on him that he had been, only by the grace of his father. Some of us are like Damien. It would take a tragedy for us to realise we should be thankful for what we have been blessed with. 

Today, Naaman received the gift of healing and returned to give thanks (to God through the Prophet Elisha). Ten lepers were also cleansed of their infirmities, and only one returned to give thanks. To emphasise the importance of thanksgiving, the Master asked: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God…?” It took an accident which nearly claimed my life sometime in 2013 – on the eve of my exams – to realise that my life indeed is a gift from God and that everyday I live is worth being thankful for. You do not have to wait for some ill to draw your attention to the fact that you should be appreciative. Look around you. You have been blessed with one thing or the other, one way or another. Have you paused to take time from your “busy” schedule just to say “Thank you” to your benefactor? 

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

– Oprah Winfrey

What is it that you are, or you have been thankful for? 

Independence or In dependence? 

 Am I to felicitate with you on a day like this or what? Are you really happy to be free? Are you even free to begin with? 

Yeah, sometime in the past, your pride was taken from you by deceit. You were ravished and plundered by men; men who promised to be what they were not; men whom you unwittingly gave yourself to, in exchange for what? A reflection of your naïve self? Empty promises? The words of such men are nothing but whispers in the wind. 

But of course, papa warned you of such men, but you wouldn’t listen. Your beauty and endowment, which were supposed to be a blessing to you, became your undoing. You spread your legs for men who had no respect for you. Why? Because they ‘glistened’?  Even tombs too glisten, and they were just as hollow. 

Of course, they had you. Why not? You let them in. But when they had explored all that you had to offer and their urges remained unsatisfied; they turned you over and had their fill like dogs, exploring new depths. When the pain and hurt could be borne no longer, you cried out. You remembered you had value as a living breathing person. You began to resist the same men you willingly gave yourself to. How did you think it would end? That they would just walk away? Well, through blood and tears, you forced them off you, trying to salvage whatever dignity you had left. They were gone, but you were hollow; hollow as they, or even more. 

Over the years, you cleaned up your wounds and dressed yourself, the stink of the earlier years behind you – or so you thought. You were so preoccupied with freeing yourself from the despoilers that you didn’t even notice what you had become. Didn’t you see the resemblance in the reflection? You had become like them, but worse. You had become a violator of your own self. What could be filthier? You said you were free from the grasp of savage men, but alas! You have become a slave to your own vices. Do you need a reminder of some of these vices of yours? Is it your greed? Your lust? Your gluttony? Or your blind rage, which is currently driving you? Of course, in your blind rage, you wouldn’t see what you have become, even when you look in the mirror, your memento from the past. 

Like a cankerworm, you are slowly eating yourself from the inside – out and soon, all that would be left of you would be your carcass; spat on and trampled upon by passers-by. Your rot would stink to the highest heavens and every creature will turn away from you. Don’t you hear the echoes of laughter around you? Your peers mock and scorn you, your paramours of old make jest of your characterless beauty. “Beauty without brains” they say. And in your frustration, you violate your own self even more. To what end? Through the curtain of your animus, you see your actions as acts of mortification, but in truth, rather than your anima being strengthened by it, it is severely weakened. Tell yourself the truth; you are starving not fasting, you are in lack and not practicing self – privation, the chains in your hands are yours and not for walking dogs, your thin frame isn’t a result of dieting but hunger. Your will is broken and once again, you are vulnerable to plunderers. When will you learn? At your age, you should have had children living on your legacy. Instead, like a scarlet woman, you run from one man to another. What is it you seek? Heaven knows papa is turning in his grave right now. 

Are you not supposed to be a creature of reason and logic? In your lack and hunger, why spend the last of your energy and coin acquiring brooms to swat flies, rather than spending the same energy and coin – or less – buying bread for the stomach? Is it not a strengthened arm that contemplates swatting flies? Supposing you die of hunger and weakness before you get the brooms, what happens next? And if you do get the brooms, what then? How do you intend to wield the brooms? Why not leave the poor flies until you are strong enough to swat them? By then, even your neighbours, noticing the vigour you are exerting on the exercise will join you in ridding your house of flies. Don’t you know that people only identify and align with the strong? Make no mistake; no one identifies with the weak, they are either exploited or pitied from a distance. Only a man who has eaten well the night before, goes for jogging in the morning. You didn’t eat what he ate last night; in fact you haven’t eaten in days, so why bother? Brooms and exercises are secondary needs. You know your primary needs, satisfy them. It is good to be zealous, especially for a cause you believe in, but where lies that zeal without strength? You are a creature of reason for goodness sake. Prove it!