Commentary: Today my thoughts turn to gratitude

There is a lull in the patter of rain on the roof. A mournful hoot sounds from the owl residing in a nearby tree.

On this wintry-feeling night I am tucked away out of the elements and even enjoying them when I am suddenly reminded of all those who have a very different perspective. My good fortune assails me. I am filled with gratitude and yet …

As I spent this Sunday of inclement weather cleaning and clearing, my thoughts turned to Thanksgiving and all that it means — or can mean to some, I realize in this moment — was foremost in my mind as topic.

Husband Mike has been on a Montana trip for two weeks, and so I was tossing sour milk and moldy bread along with things from way at the back of the refrigerator with long-overdue pull dates. It always seems so wasteful to me to do this, having been raised by a mother who had lived through the Depression, so the bread was set aside to feed to the crows when the rain stops.

Now, suddenly and too late, I think of other possibilities that should have occurred to me before these foods went bad. In good fortune, I am too often complacent. I promise myself to be better, more aware.

There is — and probably always will be — an inequity in life as it is played out. Certainly, that is one of the things that Occupy Wall Street in its own way is trying to remedy. The disparity between the haves and the have-nots is great.

The holidays are upon us. Most of you reading this are anticipating or are already sated from the feast recently set down before you. On a day highlighted for many by family reunions and traditional meals of turkey with all the trimmings, you may watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York or one of the football games on TV.

There may have been talk of the holidays still to come and how they would be spent and what gifts might best be given. For most, the perspective will have been one of festive joy as you basked in convivial connection.

Then, there are those steeped in poverty. No family, perhaps, and only the tentative companionship of those in like circumstances. For people in these circumstances life is a constant and often desperate struggle merely for food and shelter.

Rain is often not a gentle patter on the roof, but cause for great concern. The mournful hoot of the owl only serves as a haunting echo of their own lonely search.

How can each of his help? There are countless ways.

First, awareness, then, action. As we give thanks let us also create that vision for tomorrow of which Melody Beattie speaks, one in which we may unlock the fullness of life found in both random acts of kindness and planned giving.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer, counselor, and manager of the Sawdust Studio Art Classes in Laguna Beach.

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