For Thanksgiving, we are planning to take a train ride on Amtrak. The kids are excited. Preparations had to be made, the shopping list was long. Chores done, I drove back from the freeway to the busy main road towards home. Suddenly a strange sense of dwelling took over me. I looked from my Minivan at the many traffic light embedded road. There were auto showrooms on either side every few blocks. Small businesses seemed busy that afternoon. The beauty salon had customers who sat and sipped on water. The Thai restaurant door swung open and shut. The furniture shop with its many signs tried desperately to get the attention of every person driving by.
After a few lights, I turned into a smaller road. Suddenly the scene changed. Now the street was dotted there were picturesque houses. They had green front yards and backyards full of plentiful fruit trees. Tyre swings hung off of trees and basketball courts stood proudly in front of the garage. A long line of strollers, tricycles, and bikes peeked from behind the wooden railings of the porch . Adolescents practiced skateboarding on small slopes in the driveway and elderly couples walked leisurely hand in hand.
Microcosms of little worlds that changed every few miles.
My mind shifted up – higher and higher up and I was looking at everything from an aerial view. I saw not the current families but past families who lived here. Future families that will move in here after us. If I spread my hands wide enough I felt like I could encircle the world that we lived in. Starting at the home in the center, the daycare, the school, the grocery shop, the barber, the gas station, the soccer field. All in one big circle enclosed within my embrace. And within the circumference of this, we all struggle to find and uphold our uniqueness. I remember Carl Sagan’s famous “Pale Blue Dot” speech.
As we approach Thanksgiving we will hopefully be slowing down and spending time with our families. Maybe this is the time we remind ourselves on this perspective. How small our struggles, our pain, our joy might appear when looked through the lens of time, distance or any detached dimension. In the end, there is not much we can do but say, “Thanks” for the things we have.
Open our arms wide enough to gather everything and everyone around us in one giant embrace, close your eyes and say “Thanks”. Movement resets everything again and again. But we can enjoy the magic of that moment for just a few seconds more.