I was just about to write a message about Thanksgiving and what appeared in my inbox from Marcia Jameson, of Creative Conversations, Colorado, was so beautiful and apt that I felt that nothing I could write could be as good as this. I asked her permission to share it with you and everyone on our list. She gave it readily, and for that, I am very grateful. I think you will enjoy it while at the same time find it suitably thought-provoking. Thanks, Marcia.
Marcia’s 2018 Thanksgiving Thoughts
Twenty-some years ago I sat in a casual, neighborhood-type restaurant in Palo Alto, California having dinner with my business partner and a highly regarded executive from a Fortune 50 company. Although he was an executive by title, he was, by all accounts, also an exceptional leader. Midway through dinner, he dropped a bomb…or so I thought. He shared that he was in the middle of a year-long experience in which he and several other folks from all walks of life had come together to live as though they had only one year left to live!
Huh? Momentarily stunned… kinda confused…and very concerned, I asked him the first question that apparently everyone asked him when he shared what he was up to: “Are you sick?” What I really meant was “Are you dying?” I wondered if he’d been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
He assured me he hadn’t, although a couple members of his group had. Most of the members had joined the group because of some moment of reckoning in which they realized that although they appeared to have it all from the outside looking in, they were not living the lives they wanted.
I went from being taken aback to deeply intrigued. This particular executive had been wildly successful professionally, and personally…so it seemed. Yet he felt a strong undercurrent of discontent. Outta whack in ways. I listened spellbound as he shared some of the light bulb moments he’d had since joining the group and some of the changes he’d already made or was planning to make. I admired his courage for taking action. But what I admired, even more, were his guts for being willing to ask himself the tough questions and answer them honestly.
I should remember this man’s name. I don’t. But I remember the conversation! It was totally unexpected and quite unsettling. It left me wondering, “Am I doing what I want to be doing? Am I living the life I want to be living?” Questions I continue to ask myself to this day! So much for small talk!
That dinner conversation came back into my awareness a few weeks ago when I read about a new book titled “so this is the end” posing the question: what would you do if you knew you had 24 hours left to live (and could do anything)?
By now you’re probably wondering, “What’s this have to do with Thanksgiving?” After all, the subject of this email is: Marcia’s 2018 Thanksgiving Thoughts.
Here’s the thing: I love a good clarifying question. One that cuts to the chase. The kind that hits like a splash of cold water in the face and wakes us up. I’ve been told I ask those kinds of questions!
And so, this question, “What would you do if you knew you had 24 hours left to live?” lingered. Not in a top-of-mind kind of way. Kind of on the edge of my awareness. It slipped in for consideration as I was drifting off to sleep or waking up when my conscious mind was in airplane mode.
24 hours? That’s way different than a year. Much less wiggle room. No dillydallying around with only 24 hours.
What would I want to do? Really? All I knew initially is that whatever it was would NOT include skydiving, mountain climbing or riding a bull named Fu Man Chu!
And then I awoke one morning with my answer. I’d want to say “Thank you” to everyone whose path has crossed mine this lifetime. Everyone who has left an imprint on my life. E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E.
I’d start with my family and friends: the people I have loved and who have loved me, for who I am and in spite of who I am. I’d also thank those who have inspired me and those who have discouraged me. Those who have made my heart sing, and those who have broken it wide open.
I’d thank the dream bosses I’ve worked for, as well as the a**holes. And the colleagues and clients I’ve worked with who made work heaven, and the handful who made it hell. I’d thank those who have supported me personally and professionally by acknowledging my light AND exposing my shadows. I’d thank those who have given me feedback—solicited or not, that took my breath away—from either breathing a sigh of relief OR from having to suck air to take in what was difficult to hear!
I’d thank the friends and neighbors from long ago in the boonies of Pennsylvania to all those I’ve known since moving to Colorado. I would thank the people who’ve had my back and stood by me and those who’ve hurt or betrayed me. I’d thank teachers, preachers, coaches, mentors, trusted advisors, caretakers, healers and service providers who’ve supported me with their unique gifts along the way.
I’d thank people who don’t know me from Eve, but whose books or writing or programs or work have changed my life…sometimes with a single sentence or comment! And people whose names or faces I’ve forgotten, but whose words or deeds I haven’t. The list is L O N G. Much longer than this.
Truth is, I couldn’t get it all done in 24 hours. Not even close. And that is why I thank people every day, along the way. And every year at this time I do my annual ritual of giving thanks.
Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday—the one that speaks to my heart and feels most holy. It is my cue to go below the surface appreciations and give thanks for all of life. Not just the pleasant parts that are fun, joyful, easy and love-filled; but for the painful, messy, difficult and fear-filled parts as well.
I learn from all of it. I grow through all of it. I give thanks for ALL OF IT!
Although I am well aware that life can change in a heartbeat, I’m counting on having more than 24 hours to live. Just as I’m counting on living way beyond another year.
Whatever life brings, I want you to know you have touched my life in a positive way. It may have been years ago. It may have been yesterday. It may have been for a brief moment or an extended period of time—or as a well-known poem so beautifully says: for a reason, a season or a lifetime. It may have been in person or through your work in the world. It doesn’t matter. My life has been enriched because you were in it. I am grateful our paths crossed, and for that I give thanks.
Here’s wishing you and your family a happy and blessings-filled Thanksgiving that is meaningful in ways that matter most to you. And if you need a good conversation starter over Thanksgiving dinner, you might ask those who have gathered around the table with you: What would you do if you knew you had only 24 hours left to live…and you could do anything?
With Joy & Appreciation!