As I write this Thanksgiving post I am visiting a place that endures months of 100+ degrees Fahrenheit temps. I think about the contrast with where I was last year, enduring frigid temperatures and icy cold blasts of wind. Extremes. Endurance. Loss. Despair. Survival. Hope. Maybe hope. Please let us keep hope.
Hope can carry us forward. I don’t mean a political slogan of hope, thrown as an easy vote getter. I mean the down-and-dirty hope. Hope born of seeing the worst, and yet knowing that there is still something better. Something still worth fighting and living for–something that is inexpressible in words but known in a human heart.
In this time when the world faces a flood of refugees, let us remember the enduring refugee in us all. Let us keep in touch with, and be thankful for, that hopeful survivor inside each of us who unites us as humans.
Thanksgiving 2014: As I write this I’m visiting a place where the daytime temp is 16 degrees Farenheit and the sun barely appears this time of year. The locals are saying it’s a warm winter this year. Some people are thriving in this winter wonderland but a few of us find it hard to function in this kind of weather and our long-term survival would be questionable.
Have you ever been cold, I mean cold to the point where you couldn’t think about anything but how cold you were? And while you were in that state of almost-frozen, were you hungry also? Can you imagine some illness and death in the mix? Would you be able to care for yourself and others while you were cold, hungry and sick – and loved ones were dying? Add a bit or a bunch of despair in the mix and you have one big bucket of misery.
Centuries ago a band of separatists loaded a small boat, struck out across an ocean, and set their sights on surviving so that they could build a life worth living. They are not the only group to set out, striving to discover a new place and a new way of life. Polynesians, Vikings, Greeks, explorers from any culture leaving one world to embrace another. But that small group of English protestants, who lost almost half their number that first year, modeled a celebration that millions emulate each year. It was a celebration of abundance.
Usefulness of Creativity
Creativity in the service of survival is about rendering an existence and modeling a reality in which to survive. Is your gift the ability to write pleasant words, or paint pretty pictures? Can you use those words and pictures to bring yourself or a stranger out of despair?
Can you make body adornments, knowing you can also forge metal into a door hinge to keep out the cold? Can you prepare lovely pies and casseroles while knowing you can kill and clean a protein source? Or forage non-poisonous plants to feed a family? Can you harvest honey to provide sweet fuel for hard labor? Most of us are not required to find out how creative we can be in hardship. But imagine being shoved out of your comfort zone, what could you do to help yourself or others to survive? And what would you do when you find you have survived and the scare and scarcity are over?
That creative streak you believe in, that ability to piece together a skill set, and that will to act – spring from somewhere deep in the communal human soul. It has enabled us to be here today.
That small band of cold, sick and hungry humans who braved hardship to establish what they saw as a better life, celebrated abundance with gratitude when their hardships eased.
Do you have a way to appreciate or celebrate abundance in your life? If you are stuck in the chill of inaction, thaw out your heart with some thoughts of confidence and trust in your creative process. Create gratitude art or experiment with metaphors of abundance. It may help you or someone else to survive.