Please indulge me as I invite you to take a test and answer a few simple questions. Sit back and relax. Now that you are comfortably seated, please reflect on the following questions and answer with a simple “yes” or “no” without qualifying your response:
- Do I feel hungry?
- Do I get what I wish to eat (most of the time, anyway)?
- Am I able to enjoy/digest what I consume?
If you answered in the affirmative to the above questions, congratulations! We can deduce that you are healthy, your body is functioning as it was designed to, and for the most part, you are in control of your essential faculties.
Moving forward, allow me to present the following interesting data (courtesy of the omnipresent and ever-obliging universal aunt Google) which, in very general terms tells us that in the case of an average adult:
- 12 – 20 breaths are taken by a human each minute
- The heart beats 100,000 times each day and pumps 5.6 litres (6 quarts) of blood circulating through the body three times every minute
- About 600,000 particles of outer layer of skin is shed every hour and the epidermis (apart from the thicker dermis beneath) replaces itself every 35 days
- We get a new liver every six weeks
- An eye is composed of more than 2 million working part and more than 1 million nerve fibres connect each eye to the brain
You probably already knew all this and are wondering what is all this leading up to.
Quite simply, it is just a reminder that the human body is said to be the most perfect machine. Yet, we go through life completely oblivious of this fine gift, as it quietly continues to perform at optimal efficiency, calibrating and readjusting itself continuously in “auto mode,” enabling us to do whatever we wish to do, or not. Usually, it is only on hitting a road bump, when some part of this machine malfunctions that we take note and then pray for divine intervention to help us get back on our feet. How often do we just stop to acknowledge, and, thank the ultimate power which keeps this machine humming? It took several heart-attacks and surgeries before this simple fact registered with me.
Expressing gratitude goes beyond simply saying “thank you.” It is when one realizes that “but for the Grace of God” one could be in a different, not such a happy place. The following story has stayed with me over the years.
A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said “I am blind, please help.” There were only a few coins in the hat.
A man walking by, took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.
Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?”
The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you had stated, but in a different way. I wrote: “Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it.”
Both signs told people that the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign helped to remind people they were so lucky that they were not blind.
The Dalai Lama states, “For a person who cherishes compassion and love, the practice of tolerance is essential, and for that, an enemy is indispensable. So, we should be grateful to our enemies, for it is they who can best help us develop a tranquil mind.” He adds, “When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect towards others.”
Let us remember to remind ourselves not just on this day of Thanksgiving but continually thereafter, to be thankful for what we have and for what we do not. Above all, let’s learn to be grateful to our enemies.