These are difficult and thankless times for the millions without jobs, on food stamps and struggling to just make ends meet. Even those among us who are in better financial condition often find little in life for which to be grateful. If your gratitude list is short, consider adding the gifts of family and friends. Next add to it your servants—and don’t object by saying only the very rich can afford servants. The average American home has a score of servants who work to make life more comfortable and to do the unpleasant tasks: a stove for cooking, a refrigerator, washing machine, toaster, radio, television, telephone…and don’t forget the simple doorbell. Consider thanking these docile servants who serve you day and night, usually without a single word of gratitude.
I have left to the last the most important reason for gratitude—the invisible gifts. Yet to be really thankful for these requires a special vision. Eyesight naturally diminishes as we age, so it is paradoxical that older people are the experts of this needed, exceptional vision. The eyes of the youthful are attracted to externals like physical beauty and consumer possessions, and so when seeing an elderly couple enjoying themselves are bewildered about what they can find attractive in one another.
One of my favorite authors, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, said “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.” Heart-seeing is a skill of the elderly who find great attractiveness in indispensable fidelity that’s invisible to the eye. They are also fabulously wealthy because of loving companionships that are impossible to purchase at any price and by the invisible wealth of many memories shared.
This Thanksgiving, get drunk on 100 Proof Gratitude for your many essential gifts that can be seen only by your heart.