Thanksgiving. Thankfulness. Gratitude. What are we blessed with? What am I blessed with? Finding myself in the midst of upheaval, at one of several ground zeros in our broken country, I still take moments to pause and reflect on the goodness in the world, the kindness I have found in so many people who have touched my life this past year.
In fact many people didn't just touch my life, they saved it. I sat down early one morning while waiting for the Oakland encampment to be raided, and I spent a little time praying for peace and meditating. Not like one of the people you see making a public statement out of it, this was a private moment.
In that moment, I reflected on where I was last May, laying in a hospital bed, and feeling sure I wasn't going to make it. I had two major surgeries in the last year, the second was in late April, and I ended up badly infected. For five empty days I lay in that bed defeated, which is a place I never go to, no matter how bad things get. Finally prayer, a Gideon's Bible, and an amazingly supportive hospital staff helped pull me out, and then back. Not in a born again way, that is not me. But in a deeply spiritual and grateful way.
I still get choked up thinking of the kindness I was shown in that hospital. There are people who helped save my life that I wouldn't know if I passed them on the street. I was so sick when the ambulance got me, I really can't remember what the paramedics looked like. But I do remember their concern, their quick response.
Both surgeries had teams of surgeons. I never met them all, I will never know who all of them were. Because it was public health, I never saw the people who operated on me afterward. Those surgeons, and some doctors, several specialists, and countless awesome nurses all helped save me and put me back together.
Friends and family members all helped too and I wouldn't be here without them. People I've never met, but I know through the wonders of the internet helped support me.
Thankful and grateful are not really enough to describe how I feel.
Here I am, six months later, running around all hours of the night, embarking on a path I never expected. I'm a changed person, and have found an energy I never expected to have in me again. And once again, it's the support of countless people I've met that keeps me going.
I believe in the kindness and goodness that lies somewhere deep inside us all. Sometimes it's hard to find, sometimes it's been buried under the burdens of all our years. But more often then not, with patience and understanding, it's there, somewhere.
And today, this weekend, I'm going to focus on remembering that as one of my core beliefs. I am only here because of that kindness and goodness. That is where my source of strength has come from. That is where my God lies.
I've heard a lot of cynicism recently about our country. But the reason I'm so obsessed with what's going on, the reason I'm driven to tell the truth in a misunderstood story, is that I still have hope for us. Though I've seen some very bad things recently, I've also encountered an inspiring level of good. Though I have a lot of anger about those bad things, I believe the good is still there, waiting for all of us to access it, to find our common national level of good. A bond that seeks a way past our polarization, a road out of our displacement, a path to that better place we all hope for and don't collectively know how to find.
This past year, I learned a great lesson on how to heal and survive. Our strength comes from outside ourselves. The more of that we let in, the stronger we are.
Thursday, most of the country will be doing the same things, whether we are left or right, occupiers or tea partiers, atheists or believers, or whatever of many diverse things we may be. We will be spending the day with people we love, and bonding over a meal of thanks. Let's try something a little forgotten this year. Let's try and be thankful for all of us, let's try and remember we all have more in common then we realize. And maybe next year, we'll all have a little more to be thankful for.