Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Aside from being just a super-cool word, juxtapositions are some of my favorite things. The placement and/or connection of two things, usually to contrast them, is always enlightening. So when it comes to Thanksgiving, I usually have juxtapositions on my mind. Mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. Apple pie and pumpkin pie. Gratitude and complaint. Intention and apathy.

I feel very thankful this year, and as has lately seemed to be the case, my thankfulness is tinged with a sense of loss. Not dramatically so, no need to worry about me. But I have lost enough loved ones and borne enough pain over the years that all pain is now shadowed with joy and all joy whispered with pain. I know when I'm grieving that I will feel joy again (indeed, sometimes I find joy in the depths of the sorrow; there is a beauty to the grieving. It's difficult to explain in words, as you can tell by reading this post. The next great American writer, I'm not.). I know when I'm joyful that pain will find me again in the future. I accept this. So it goes.

It seems to me that awareness of this joy/loss juxtaposition is both a good thing and the bad part of being a grown-up. As a child, your sadness and your happiness are pure and unmixed; as you grow older and you come to understand more about the world, you see things differently. Some counseling theories suggest that emotionally healthy people are comfortable with this type of ambiguity, this dark/light juxtaposition.

But anyway. As I consider this Thanksgiving, I find myself reminiscing past Thanksgivings. I am thankful for all the times I've shared with loved ones, and I remember the Thanksgivings spent alone or in potluck with the nurses at TH's work. I miss the old Thanksgivings I remember at my grandparents' house, or at my aunt's house. I will miss the family that is not at my table. But I am so thankful we get to host the family this year.


While thinking about Thanksgiving today, I also realized that this holiday season, I want to live with greater intention ("be the change you wish to see in the world" - as Gandhi once said). I want to say what I think, I want to be present with my feelings, I want to speak up for myself and be more aware of when I need to speak up for others, I want to keep juxtaposing ideas and people and events. I don't want to add to the losses of my life by wishing I had lived differently. I want to fully inhabit this being of my self. There's always more growing to do.

So that's my juxtaposition jumble of Thanksgiving thoughts. I wish you all a lovely holiday and many more blessings than you can count.

No comments: