It was one of the most ill-fated ventures you would never, ever want to invest in. Venture capitalists had backed a group of religious zealots, and bought them a ship with a captain navigating more by rumor than knowledge. They were to set sail for a land none of them had ever seen and knew darn little about – a moot point, since they missed their destination by literally a thousand miles. The executive plan was for these cult members to disembark, build a colony, grow something profitable (probably tobacco), and find some way to ship it back to the investors who would make grand profits. There was not one farmer among the entire crew.
Now, one year later, in 1621, these Mayflower pilgrims were reaping the harvest of their inexperience. The meager crop production amounted only enough to export into the colonists’ bellies, if winter was not too long. More than half of the pilgrims who had landed a year earlier and struggled into settlement at Plymouth Plantation were dead. And yes, they also were smitten with an epidemic. So what did these 50 remaining pilgrim venturers do?
They did what human survivors always do – they rejoiced.
* Half of us are still alive. The demographic glass is half full.
* We’ve been relatively welcomed by an overall kindly group of knowledgeable Wampanoag native folks who had saved us from our own agricultural ignorance.
* Our Mayflower Compact, which guided our self-governance, has held. “Just and equal laws for the general good” had been passed. And peace, for the most part, prevails. No knife fights over food – yet.
* The silos hold a some surplus
* There are no icicles hanging from our noses – not bad weather for Massachusetts this time of year.
* My son brought down his first turkey…and here comes Massasoit’s men hauling in six deer! Life is good. Praise the Lord.
You just gotta love humanity. We are innately such admirable boot-strappers. We always want to lift ourselves up, no matter how vast the disaster. Somehow, we close our eyes to all that bottom-line logic of circumstance, that would indicate holding a day of grievous mourning. Heck with that. We spit in Fate’s eye, and holler out, “Let’s Celebrate. Let us Give Thanks!” We sing. We feast.
And you know what? It works. When you dredge your memory and roll out a roster of your blessings, the mind irresistibly starts focusing on the good. Gratitude, that most positive of emotions, takes root and all those assets lying around your life start to glisten with potential. This Thanksgiving countless wise individuals will offer many reverential reasons on why we should give thanks. And they will be truly right. But, if you will, allow me to proffer my own take on giving thanks: We need it – You need it – it’s a vital thrive/survival tool that defies reason, yet sets us on the best possible track. Oh, and of course, celebrating and giving thanks is fun.
Have a joyful Thanksgiving – and may it long continue throughout your year,
– Bart Jackson