Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Gratitude Day

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It's Canada Day.  Should I have painted something red?  Perhaps a maple leaf or two?  Perhaps I should have painted them on myself and taken a picture?  Nah, I'm not into Nationalism although in an understated slightly Canadian way I might say this is a pretty nice place to live.  My friend the monk often says "we live in a diva realm" (not specific to this country), meaning that those of us living here in comfortable circumstances are very fortunate; no wars, no famine, no natural disaster, no political unrest and persecution.  It isn't that way for many people in this human realm.  We have the good fortune she says to have the means and the time and the interest to study the Dharma and that is truly good fortune.  But we tend to forget that and take it all for granted.  We breeze right over it and get down to the serious business of what's wrong with life, what's bugging us.  Maybe we should have a Gratitude Day instead of a Canada Day?  Or as well as?  (Holidays are good.)

Today we had the particular good fortune to take part in a Canada Day celebration.  It was impromptu and a surprise.  It's funny because I think I somehow saw the seed of it this morning as I stood in the grocery store line-up.  I was buying boring things like carrots and onions and nuts and as I snooped on the order behind me I saw a fancy cake with fruit and a little Canada flag and some cheese buns, a bag of chips, some pop and some twinkle lights with Canada flags on them.  Party food I thought, things I wouldn't buy and I felt the tug of nostalgia.

Later we stopped by my mother's to have a short visit  before heading out of town tomorrow for a few days.  It turned out there was a Canada Day barbecue happening a little earlier than the usual dinner hour.  As we sat and visited on the patio, dinner preparations began.  And when the young woman server came to find out what everyone wanted she cajoled us into staying for dinner (even though we didn't have the required dinner tickets for guests).  So we sat outside in the lovely breezeless afternoon (that's a good thing in here in this cooler part of the world) and ate party food.  Veggie burgers for us vegetarians and potato salad and little bags of potato chips and Canada Day cake and cherries.  There was this lovely summer picnic feel to it.  Staff had brought their families and the usually empty patio was filled with life and Beatles music.  The two cooks manned the outdoor grill and other staff delivered drinks and burgers.  We even sang "Oh Canada" and I have to say it's been so long that we were stumbling over the changes that have been made since we sang it in grade school (we also used to sing God Save The Queen!  eek!) 

I think it was fun because it was unexpected and so different from anything we would ever plan to do, but in this strange way it was really heart warming and lovely.  It seemed so quintessentially summer and so strangely celebratory.  There was the lovely feeling of just sitting and being; enjoying the sun and the company and people watching.  We sat with several of my mother's friends and maybe it was a truly Canadian conversation because we talked about the noisy crows checking out the meal and then the conversation turned to some raccoons that have been visiting our backyard and then stories of otters and bears told by one of our table mates.  Someone even mentioned Tim Horton's!

So it can be very interesting where we find those small bits of delight and joy, wedged snugly between the custard in a Canada Day cake or wafting along the draughts of barbecue smoke, or just sitting under the oak trees in the company of the over 80 set.  No one"s in a hurry, no one feels the need to impress or make idle chit chat.  It reminds me of a book title which I love,  "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"  I think I know what he means now.  Happy Gratitude Day!  (It's got to start somewhere.)

1 comment:

  1. Ah, good old Kundera. That's a great novel!

    I vote for Gratitude Day. Or maybe Gratitude Year. How about Gratitude Lifetime?