Yes, sometimes life is not fair. It's cruel. It's almost unbearable. But sometimes it's generous, beautiful and wondrous. So it's a choice whether or not we want to dwell on the negative or celebrate the positive. To be victims of circumstances or masters of our fate. And that's why Thanksgiving is such a blessing. It reminds us of what is important.
Gratitude is defined as "the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness."
Imagine if every person practiced that even once a day how different the world would be.
It's not that hard to do. We just need to stop long enough in our way too busy lives to think about all we have to be thankful for.
Dan Millman, the author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior among many other life-changing books is someone who reminds us why we should be thankful for teachers - a subject near and dear to my heart. Not just traditional teachers, but all the people who come in and out of our lives and make a difference. Here is an excerpt from the book Thank You, Teacher by Holly & Bruce Holbrook where Dan Millman tells us why a teacher was so important to him: https://bit.ly/2TtXcML
The line that jumps out at me is the following: "We owe a debt of gratitude to all our teachers. It is a debt I can never fully repay, but that won’t stop me from trying."
It is an idea that motivates me every day to wake up ridiculously early, to sit in mind-numbing traffic, to go to work even when I'm sick - all so that I can walk through my classroom door. You see, I too have have a debt I feel I have not adequately repaid, but am determined to try.
When I was a junior in high school, my journalism teacher, Mr. Peter Diaferia, saw something in me. I loved to write. So unbeknownst to me, he submitted a project I had done for his class to a national writing contest and against all odds, I won. My prize was to me mentored by professional authors and journalists.
His willingness to go the extra mile gave me the training and validation I needed to pursue a career in writing. I am a professional writer because of him. He helped me realize my dream.
For years, I said I was going to go back to my high school and not only show him what I had accomplished, but to thank him. To make him realize his efforts made a difference - the one thing teachers hope for.
But I was always too busy. I made excuses. I assumed I would have time to do it when it was more convenient for me.
So when I actually got around to doing a search online to find him, I discovered that he had passed away. I would never see the look on his face when I showed him the book I'd published. Tell him about the contests I'd won. Thank him for the opportunities I've had that wouldn't have been possible without him.
There's nothing much worse than regret. It burns like a hot knife in your heart. And it's irreversible.
Or so I thought.
But I am one of the lucky ones. I've gotten a second chance. I went back on the Internet and discovered that the obituary I had seen was a different person with exactly the same name and that my teacher was still with us. And thanks to the ever invasive people lookup sites, I've been able to find what I believe is his address. So my New Year's resolution is to not wait until January to send him a letter and tell him how he changed the course of my life.
But I've learned something else. When I look at my students, I think about him and try to find that spark in them that he saw in me. I tell this story to them. And I ask them to do me a favor - let me help them the way a teacher once helped me.
Teachers never know all the people they've touched, but if we're very lucky, once in a while a student will say "thank you", not realizing how much those two simple words mean.
I know. I learned the hard way. Don't let time slip by. No excuses. Tell the people in your life how much you appreciate them. Tell God or whatever you may believe in how grateful you are for what you have and teach the children in your life to do the same.
Garth Brooks recorded a song titled "If Tomorrow Never Comes". Please watch this young man doing a cover version of it and think of people who've touched your life.
Say thank you. Say it over and over again... and say it like you mean it. Not just on a holiday, but every single day.
Thank you, Mr. Diaferia.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.