It's Thanksgiving today. I feel like I should put a one-day hold on my usual inclination to write something snarky, critical, or in my better moments, only mildly negative.
So here goes with my modification to a song lyric that popped into my head when I woke up this morning and realized what day it was.
And if you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with.
Stephen Stills performed the song, "Love the One You're With," in 1970. I turned 22 that year. Now I'm 72. The general sentiment still rings true to me, albeit with this modification.
This is firmly in a Thanksgiving theme, yet without the excessive sentimentality of the usual I'm so thankful for _____ that suffuses American households today.
Sure, it's wonderful to be thankful. However, life is difficult. And I hate to break this news to you younger folks, but life gets more difficult as we grow older.
Not in all ways. In some ways.
Notably, when it comes to health and the pain that often accompanies our problems. Some pain is physical. Some is psychological, such as regret that one's life hasn't turned out as expected way back when.
So it's asking a lot to be thankful for things in your life that aren't welcome. I suppose my love the life you're with sounds similar, but I see some differences between thankfulness and love. Love of life is more inclusive than thankfulness for this and that.
If our back is hurting so much we can't get out of bed, that isn't an aspect of life we want to have hang around. However, it's possible to view that pain as part of a larger life that we love. Which is sort of how we view our children when they're young.
They can be a pain to deal with, but we still love them for who they are, flaws included.
Acceptance of what is actually present in our life is a big step toward loving our life. Denial, which includes "this shouldn't be happening to me," isn't helpful, though it is temping to indulge in, since we would rather be with the life we love than the life we're with if the latter is lacking some things we value.
Via the Waking Up app on my iPhone, I've been listening to a series of short talks by William B. Irvine called The Stoic Path. One that resonated with me is called You Are Living The Dream Life.
How could this be, given all that is wrong with our lives? Well, Irvine says that out there in the world there are people who dream of living the sort of life that you or I have. Their lives don't contain what we have, being worse in those respects. Thus to them our life is a dream life.
Yes, our back hurts. But we can walk. And it doesn't hurt that bad all the time, just sometimes. There are people who can't walk at all and dream of being able to do this, even if it was painful.
Closer to home, Irvine also says that later on in our own life, we may look upon the life we have now as a dream life. Meaning, our life might head downhill in some ways that we take for granted at the moment -- another reason to love the life we're with, since it may be the high point of the rest of our life.
Anyway, these are my Thanksgiving thoughts.
Our dog, Mooka, is lying under the small table I'm typing on, making it difficult to get my legs in a comfortable position. But I love Mooka. I'd rather deal with not being able to straighten out my legs than not have Mooka in my life.
(Getting Mooka to move would be another option. Except, I like it when she lays under the computer table, though her motivation probably is to stay close to the person who takes her on a late afternoon walk, after which she gets dog dinner.)