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CHASING DOWN THE MUSE: Many reasons to say ‘thanks’

Thanks. Simple enough. So often forgotten. 

As I walk in the morning, I listen to a chorus of bird song, to frogs in the bottom of the canyon, to the laughter of children, and I remember. We are blessed with much bounty. No matter how difficult life may be in the moment, anyone reading this is gifted with abundance in some pretty amazing ways. And whether we thank some higher power, someone paid for services rendered, or just the person holding the door for us, our gratitude can be expressed in the simple word “thanks." 

Writing this, Thanksgiving Day is still a few days away. There is always a time to simply say thanks. This national holiday proclaimed by then president Abraham Lincoln is a yearly and humbling reminder of all that we have even as we may remember what has been lost along the way. 

As we’ve heard so many times before, the first official modern-day Thanksgiving celebration was held some 10 months after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1621. After months of deprivation, they gathered to give thanks for their first successful harvest. They were joined by the “locals” — neighboring friendly Indians — and the solemn celebration became a joyous feast. Still, simple thanks were the beginning; simply remembering to say thanks sparked this larger celebration of life itself. 


With his proclamation in 1863, President Lincoln invited all fellow citizens “in every part of the United States and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands” to observe “a day of thanksgiving and praise….” While he could not have foreseen where so many of our citizens today would be, even this statement humbles and reminds. I look around for the things for which I wish to give thanks with all this in mind. Of course, a special thanks goes to those “sojourning in foreign lands” and serving FOR us. 

There are always the obvious things for which to give thanks — food on the table, good health, a roof over our head, family, and friends. Sometimes, if we listen and see with our hearts as well as our ears and our eyes, we will hear and see even more for which to give thanks.  

I am reminded of a young client from my long ago “therapy” days. She had been telling me about the annoying neighbors at her dad’s house. She said they loudly chattered away in their foreign tongue way too early in the morning and it was “soooooo annoying.” Well, I happened to be at her father’s on a home visit when she stopped the conversation. “Listen,” she said. “Do you hear them? They never stop their strange talking. Wouldn’t you be annoyed too?” As she rolled her eyes in dramatic interest, I listened. All I heard was bird song. 

Well, of course, I am ever thankful for bird song; it’s one of my favorite things. Stilling the laughter that rose in my throat, I simply said, “All I hear is the sound of many birds, all chirping at once.” She thought for a moment, head cocked to one side, listening. I waited. 


When at last she broke the silence, it was with a loud laugh. “Oh, thank you,” she said through her laughter. “That’s so much better. I hated not understanding them.” Somehow, this young lady had found gratitude and thanks in her heart in this strange occurrence. One could never have imagined that moment or its outcome. I love that about life. I give thanks for just such random moments in time. 

As this fourth Thursday in November draws near, I am thankful for many things. I am especially thankful this year for soon my family will all be together again. I smile just to think of the joy this brings to my heart. 

Thanks, again, Abe, for the humbling yearly reminder. We have so many blessings. 

I give thanks. However you may be spending this holiday time, let it be joyous and filled with gratitude. Follow the senses with your heart in the mix. 

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer, and creative coach exploring the many mysteries of life in the moment. She can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (949) 251-3883.