Grief :: the fastest way to gratitude

Today is Thanksgiving . . .

All the important talk about how wrong the Thanksgiving story is on my mind. Here is a great recent article by Lyla June Johnston about it. It’s important to take a look squarely at the truth. That we live in a contextual imaginary . . . that so much of the cultural air we breathe in the US, no matter what our ancestry, is tainted. This is all on my mind . . . 

And so is stuffing . . . 

Once we realize that the story is wrong/upside-down/misleading what do we do then, those of us who still feel the call to gather and prepare earth’s nourishing food and medicines? How can we make repair. For real – and still eat stuffing?

I wrote an article (with Hettie Quackers – some of you may remember her) a long time ago, way back in 2011, about how reclaiming death is a way to re-member a Thanksgiving that decolonizes the genocidal narrative of even the most WASP-y American heart and mind . . . I mean, death is such a taboo.

Now, as I read over my thoughts from 8 years ago (long before the current social vogue decolonization now has), I am reminded of the *permaculture principle of small and slow changes

You see, it’s the small changes that make the biggest, longest lasting, difference. As I write, I realize that this is somewhat of a paradox because of course large changes (like a genocidal programs usually are) do make a difference . . . and it is so very tempting to lash back with the same large gesture, but I am suggesting something else. 

Instead of lashing out at the world, or onto oneself out of guilt, with a large gesture, what if we were to really dig deep and find the smallest change that can make the biggest difference? Or at least a big difference?

Could it be Gratitude?

Gratitude is one the the things people seem to be latching onto as a safe way to do Thanksgiving. I am not talking about all the superficial trending gratitude crap that dominates. I am talking about the incredible sacred-ness of authentic gratitude like that in the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, not the incessant self-righteous fake-y gratitude of care-free privilege and bypass. 

So, how does a disconnected/fragmented heart-broken populace find their way back?

One thing I know for sure . . .

Grief is the fastest way to authentic gratitude. There is a clearing that emerges after a good weeping session that exposes the most uncontrived, authentic and deeply felt gratitude possible . . . 

Before you sit down to eat your stuffing this evening, or maybe before you go to sleep tonight, consider what it might mean to actually heal the ruptures that keep you trapped in anger, or guilt. 

How do you reclaim your grief, and thereby, your ability to greet the natural world, the otherness of the animals and the stones and the stars?

Before your can access your gratitude, or even your grief – you have to get yourself un-stuck, un-frozen, un-paralyzed. Then you will have access to yourself again, your true self. 

*I need to mark and mention Permaculture’s unacknowledged debt to Indigenous cultures worldwide – especially in what is known as Australia. Much of what is found in permaculture teachings is an unintentional appropriation and it is important to know and understand and continue to reconcile the theft – even if unintentional.

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