Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Giving Thanks

As I watch India's tricolor being unfurled on a foggy Republic Day morning, I feel a rush of pride. The notes of the national anthem reverberate through my being. Tears well up in my eyes. As I watch the saffron, green, and white flutter in the mist, I feel uncontrollable waves of love, devotion, honor, and gratitude wash over me. Gratitude. To the land that I chose as mother in this lifetime. Perhaps in previous lives too.

My gratitude goes out to the soldiers who stand at the nation's borders and face bullets every day. Soldiers without whom this nation would cease to exist as we know it; without whom the fanatics across the border would have a free run. Each night, as I sink into a fluffy pillow and comfy mattress, do I give thanks to the soldier who at that very moment is standing guard in faraway Kashmir or Rajasthan, gun in position, alert and awake? Do I give thanks the next morning that I had a peaceful night, or am I too busy trying to beat the traffic jam and get to work on time? So much to be thankful for, yet so little time to thank.

I give gratitude to the rivers of this land, for quenching my thirst every day. For nourishing all life. For embodying the flowing aspect of life itself. For reminding me of the temporary nature of worldly existence.

I am grateful to the farmers of this land, who grow the grain that feeds me. Grateful to the network of people who make sure that the grain gets to me on time. So I never go hungry.

Gratitude also to the person who stands at the gas station to fill gas in my car, so I can get to work and back home, safely. To the mechanic who services my car every now and then, so it runs okay. To the gardener who waters my plants at home so that when I look out my window each morning, I feel rejuvanated. So that I begin my day with the sight of beautiful, healthy plants.

There are so many entities who make my life, as I know it, possible. Many of these persons work behind the scenes, I wouldn't ever know all of them by name or role. I remember a conversation I had with my Mom when I was only 8 or 9 years old. We were having lunch together, talking about exactly this - gratitude. She made me list out just a few of the countless number of people who had worked so hard to grow, transport, and sell the wheat that went into making the delicious bread I was munching away at. It opened my eyes to a whole new perspective. It's so common for us to complain about how the food tastes, looks, smells, feels. If we would only stop and think about what Mom asked me to that day, perhaps we wouldn't complain so much.

I believe it's about inculcating an attitude of gratitude. It's about recognising that we take so much from our surroundings, from nature, from people. Yet, when it comes to giving back, there's not much we have to show. In the movie Avatar, Neytiri tells Jake about how we're all living on borrowed energy. Someday we will have to give it all back.

As I wipe away another tear, I look up at the tricolor towering over the gathering below. All I can bring myself to say is... Thank You.

1 comment:

SARAN said...

Dear Sai
This was really thought provoking and beautifully put- we never stop to thank the Lord for what we have instead of complaining for what we don't have.
Keep it up! you write beautifully.