Friends, welcome to the 5th edition of the "Tracking Your Wyrd" course.
As I write you this love letter, my turkey is in the oven, and the smell of herbs is scenting my home. I am the Thanksgiving chef for my family of ten, and I love cooking the largest size turkey available so I can send everyone home with leftovers. But I also like leftovers myself, so each year I make a “starter” turkey, and freeze the extra meat for my own leftovers, which always include turkey enchiladas and turkey soup and sometimes turkey pot pies and of course a sandwich or two.
Thus, the smell of the starter turkey accompanies me as I write this letter.
Turkeys, by the way, are very wyrd.
I mean wryd in a good way.
I always mean wyrd in a good way.
(For my vegan and vegetarian friends out there, know that every year, I promise the turkey I'll come back in my next life as a turkey. When I get to choose my lot in life in the otherworld, that is. Only fair.)
I know some of you live outside of the US and don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. I know even within the US, the history of Thanksgiving is fraught and complicated (as is much if not most of US history). But if we rise above the cultural and historical significance of the holiday, I love the archetypal meaning of Thanksgiving—a time to come together in community (family or “Friendsgiving”) to offer gratitude for our lives and the ways in which we have been blessed. Gratitude is an archetypal value. By archetypal, I mean universal. When I call gratitude archetypal, I am asserting that every culture in every place around the world through every period of human history understands what gratitude is, has a word or words for gratitude in their language and/or rituals to express their gratitude.
So I want to suggest a simple exercise in this letter for tracking our wyrd. I want to suggest you journal about everything you’re grateful for this year. I mean, everything, which includes:
- Experiences and Opportunities
- Things (objects, stuff you appreciate)
- Qualities (like love and health and friendship and the like)
Make yourself a big 'ole list.
Now you may do something like this every year. For those of you who keep a gratitude journal, you may do this every day, or as a regular practice. But here’s the twist. What I want you to do next is to write about why you are grateful for each thing on your list. Ask yourself why a couple of times—the why else? question—until you feel like you’ve exhausted the reasons why.
Let me give you an example. I am grateful for Jayden, my cat. Why? Because he’s gorgeous. Why else? Because he’s a lover—he insists on me giving it and he loves to receive it. Why else? Because he reminds me of my ex and our relationship. Why else? Because he is one of the most unique cats I’ve ever seen. Why else? Because he’s good company. Why else? Because I rescued him and I feel good about that for us both.
Now, let me do it again for something else I’m grateful for—my 2013 white Mercedes. Why? Because I find it beautiful. Why else? Because I appreciate the good service Mercedes offers. Why else? Because it’s a reliable way to go on long-haul visits to see my beloved, my family, and my friends. Why else? Because it’s reliable and I feel safe and secure in it.
Narcissism, or healthy self-love?
Now, after you’ve made your lists, I suggest you go through them and see if you can isolate the values behind each statement you make, like this.
I am grateful for Jayden, my cat. Why? Because he’s gorgeous [BEAUTY]. Why else? Because he’s a lover [LOVE—GIVING AND RECEIVING]. Why else? Because he reminds me of my ex and our relationship [LOVE/FRIENDSHIP]. Why else? Because he is one of the most unique cats I’ve ever seen [UNIQUENESS]. Why else? Because he’s good company [COMPANIONSHIP]. Why else? Because I rescued him and gave him a safe home and that’s gratifying [SERVICE/SECURITY].
I am grateful for my 2013 white Mercedes. Why? Because I find it beautiful [BEAUTY]. Why else? Because I appreciate the good service Mercedes offers [SERVICE]. Why else? Because it’s a reliable way to go on long-haul visits to see my beloved, my family, and my friends [LOVE/FAMILY/FRIENDS/COMPANIONSHIP]. Why else? Because it’s reliable and I feel safe and secure in it [SECURITY].
You can see where I’m going with this. If you really take on this exercise, what will bubble up to the surface are the things that are most valuable to you. And the things that are most valuable to you, your values in life, they are part of your wyrd constitution. They are the qualities that give you your particular hue, your color tones, the ways you are shaded and inflected. Or, to use a musical analogy, they are your home tone, the key tone of the scale that is your particular music.
Love is a home tone for me, as I shared last week. Love colors my life. Love inflects and reflects so much of what I do and who I am. So it is not surprising at all that love shows up at the core of most everything I’m grateful for. It’s not surprising, but it is affirming of my wyrd. And in 16 weeks, if you don’t learn anything new about your wyrd but have it affirmed and confirmed in a way that makes you say YAY! and really own it, then that, my friends, seems like something to be grateful for as well.
If you gather with family for Thanksgiving, I have two further suggestions. First, to consider how much of your wyrd you let people see. Often times we keep our wyrd from our family—we may turn down our home tone or subdue our color tone, because our wyrd may not be accepted or respected or welcomed or understood. Second, consider that everyone who gathers around your Thanksgiving table is also wyrd. They also came into the world with a genius, their own particular constellation of gifts and talents. Do you recognize them? Or might they be turning down or subduing their own wyrd as well? What a tragedy—a table full of normal people!
I’m grateful that you’re here with me. You can sit at my table anytime!
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. — William Arthur Ward
Let us swell with gratitude and allow it to overwhelm us. It isn't as cliche as we make it; life truly is short. Let's spend it all lavishly wallowing in gratitude. — Grace Gealey
'Thank you' is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding. — Alice Walker
Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants. — Kevin James