Saying or Feeling? : Gratitude 感謝って言うもの?感じるもの?


“Indigenous gratitude really is based upon honouring not just our spirit, but honouring our food, honouring our teachings around the food and how it nourishes our body, the creation stories around it and honouring our ancestors’ teachings”

TashaTanya Tacko (Interviewed by CBC’s Gordon Loverin – posted on Oct 11th 2021)

I often hear “Saying thank you” is a good thing to do. A mother tells her child, “What do you say?” when the child receive a gift. The child immediately say (almost with an automatic reaction) “Thank you”. And yet, no one really talks about what ‘saying thank you’ does to the person who says “thank you” or receive the gratitude. 

Really, what does saying ‘Thank you’ mean? Saying or Feeling it? 

Once upon a time in my life, I worked with young children. I often noticed something interesting when they were having little arguments.

A child hit another child. The hitter says to the hittee, “Sorry” with a puffed face. The hittee says, “It’s ok”.

Things seemed to be calmed at the moment, and yet, they often repeated the same thing. They seemed to end the argument by saying sorry as if understanding the ‘saying event’ as a closure. What does that mean to them, to educators, and to adults, and finally to society? 

What does this situation construct? 

They say sorry, perhaps, because adults such as teachers or their parents tell them to say ‘sorry’. Learning from this situation, I stopped asking young children to say “Sorry”; rather, I shared my idea of  thinking what it means to say sorry. I thought with them about the feeling of the pain when the others’ hand touched the innocent body with violence.

Words travel. Concepts follow after. Words could depart from our mind and body and begin to do something the world. Saying “Thank you” might float around in the air without caring a real meanings to a person. Where do unique meanings for each one of us go?

What does really mean to say “Thank you” or show “gratitude”? 

When I think of this, I think with the First Nations people wherein I live or lived before. They think differently and the difference makes dissimilarity in my mind and body. As Tasha speaks above, I might start to pay attention to my attitude towards “honouring” things right in front of my eyes. The moment that I see the food, people, life events of sad and happy. Anything I see are the life teacher and I learn with them. If/when I do things just because the calendar says so, then I am nobody. I am just being in a repetition that someone else determined to do without feeling personal reality that is just for the person. 

Have you felt the world wherein you live for yourself? 

When I think about making meaning, I also think of the meaning of life: What purpose did I come with when I came into the world? I believe my soul must know. Yet, “I” still have not yet figured things out. 

What is the purpose for this life? For what I feel grateful for the only life we received for this time? I still have lots to learn; thus I will keep going.  

As continuing my life, I thought of sharing some of the important meanings of our lives with others as not only friends and family, but also with the planet earth, and things living on it. For this, I might like the idea of creating “spaces” for people to think, feel, and experience the word that we say. 

We are the words, thus think together. 

For now, for me, to appreciate means to fill my heart with feeling of gratitude. Sometimes noticing people filling their heart and mind with money, materials, or even reputations. I used to care for these things, however, lately I begin to notice that feeling abundance in my life makes me a bit more awake. 

I felt happy when the crisp morning mountain wind touched my cheek. I did not see it, rather I felt the unseen.