Reflections on Gratitude Ceremony
I have always felt that posting a message right after a deeply emotional experience somehow cheapens the taste of the memory. I rather sit and savor the connections that I have made with people, the knowledge I gained through a wonderful book and the precious moments of ‘awe’ spent together that will forever illuminate my life. This is why it has been years since I have written about Spira’s ’40 Days of Introspection’ workshop.
There is so much to discover about humanity. We are amazing creatures capable of the worst atrocities and breathtaking beauties. It has been my goal since early childhood to somehow understand our mind and our spiritual life. This impulse pushed me towards the study of Art History and Neurobiology in parallel at the University. I don’t see the sciences and the humanities as separate disciplines; I see them as part of the same dance. To interact with and understand humanity one must have some curiosity toward both disciplines. The world is full of wonder, ’40 Days of Introspection’ forces us to look at the wonder, question our belief system and hopefully discover joy in the abundance of beauty in life on Earth. At times we must exit the hamster wheel; the life of ‘to-dos’ and ‘new year expectations’ to find meaning, to distill what is important and to find new strength.
Yesterday I picked up Oliver Sacks little book “Gratitude” a short compilations of thoughts right before his death, I found a page within this little gem of a book that I read and re-read and read again savoring every precious word among the way. Dr. Sacks has put my thoughts on gratitude and life into such a perfect form that I felt I must share with you. I cannot find a better way to communicate the abstract, complex and amazing emotions that we were left to contemplate within 40 Days of Introspection workshop. Maybe it takes one to be on the cusps of life to clearly see the living, but I sure hope that we can gain moments of clarity along the way…
“I have been increasingly conscious, for the last ten year or so, of death among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, thy cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate – the genetic and neural fate – of every human being to be unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.
I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.
Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”
– Dr. Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) from his last book “Gratitude”
Thank you to every single student who joined me on this journey. I always say and I always mean it from the bottom of my heart: Teaching is a privilege, a gift in my life that is made possible by students.
I would also like to send a virtual thank you to Prof. Jonathan Haidt for writing The Happiness Hypothesis – the book which inspired me to create 40 Days of Introspection workshop. We savor every chapter with great joy throughout our interactive book club. I am not sure this is what you had in mind when you were writing the book… you have enriched my life in so many ways…words are simply not enough to say.
Thank you for giving me the gift of teaching. – Dora