The Gift of Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving Without The Turkey

As I stepped off the boat onto the island of Koh Rong, I knew I would be celebrating Thanksgiving from heaven on earth. The porch of my bungalow sits 25 baking powder steps from crystal clear ocean. Down beach, a handful of restaurants serve seafood caught a stone’s throw away from their barefoot patios. Accommodations can be found for five dollars a night and a pineapple, chopped up and ready to eat, will run you 50 cents. The only problem is that I can’t leave my bed.

I could have spent yesterday exploring one of Koh Rong’s 28 postcard beaches or scuba diving in one the world’s premier dive centers. Instead I had a fever, food poisoning, and could barely keep my eyes open. I learned that the symptoms of “Traveler’s Diarrhea” certainly don’t stop at the illness’ name. The irony of laying so tantalizingly close to utopia, yet lacking the energy to move was not lost on me. But it was Thanksgiving, after all, so I tried to practice gratitude. Unsurprisingly, it helped. A mind filled with gratitude leaves little room for self-pity or fear. Maybe giving thanks is the ultimate antidote.

Today, I woke up with a renewed sense of color. Sand had never felt so soft, a clear mind never felt so valuable. I was back. As I stood, watching pop rocks of sunshine dance across the ocean’s surface, I had a simple realization: any moment I appreciate is a good moment. It’s so simple, yet easy to complicate. Here I am, traveling the world in search of complex answers, but the more obvious the observation, the more profoundly it seems to resonate. What a simple justification for gratitude! Not only is showing appreciation a good way to recognize the full worth of life, it may be the only way.

Traveling has reset my ability to appreciate. It’s not that the streets of Saigon have any more splendor than the streets of San Francisco in an absolute sense. It’s just more of my splendor receptors are firing at full force. The weathered man sipping the espresso outside and the faded street-sign defying the rainstorm again have their shine. And for this, I am grateful.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”



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