On Thanksgiving, I’m Thankful to Be Alive

To pick an image from Friends, which completely belies the tone you’re about to read of this post.

On Thanksgiving 2020, I’m thankful to be alive. Even if sometimes I don’t always mean that sentiment in the sentimental way. Or the hopeful and optimistic way. In my darkest moments, I maybe don’t mean it at all. But the rational part of me does. The rational part knows that getting one more day, and then getting another day, and another, like one step in front of the other, is all it takes to add up a collection of days known as weeks and months and another year, and that that is everything. It may not necessarily add up to the active version of being alive, “living,” but it’s still something in the present tense.

Amid a pandemic, being thankful to be alive actually seems rather obvious, and I will say, on that score, I’m thankful to be alive. After all, it’s hard to remain vigilant for nine months about anything. It’s hard to not get complacent and get “COVID fatigue,” as it were. A virus is unpredictable and even the most cautious of us have gotten the dang thing. And yet I, nor anybody in my immediate family, has gotten it. So, I’m thankful for that. But it’s not what I mean when I say I’m thankful to be alive.

In a grandiose sense, and my most optimistic sense, I’m always thankful to be alive because, to quote one the title of one of my favorite films, “life is beautiful.” There’s so much about life, both in the big moments and the little moments in between, that is both beautiful and wondrous. I am still that person who, if I catch it in the early morning hours (or on the flip side, the later evening hours), I stare longingly at the moon and with the requisite awe. That big, beautiful, shining moon! How can anyone tire of seeing it?!

But no, when I say I’m thankful to be alive, I mean it in the most granular sense. In that one-step-in-front-of-the-other way. Because 2020 has been a rough one beyond any pandemic struggles. In fact, arguably, the pandemic has helped me deal with the rough contours of the year. If the pandemic had not happened, I wouldn’t have had the flexibility and the work-from-home ability to weather the storm. To make it another day. To stay alive.

It’s also a milestone day worth “celebrating” because this time last year on Thanksgiving, now looking back, I began this rough road in earnest even though I didn’t know it at the time. And somehow, here I am a year later. It’s odd how even when the times are dark, the “times” move fast in hindsight. It’s just getting to that moment of hindsight that takes a while.

I know I’m being rather vague here about what’s rough, but for now, I think knowing its tentative result — that I’m thankful to be alive — is enough of an answer and explanation.

What are you thankful for on this Thanksgiving? And if you are in a part of the world that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for anyway?

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