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Why Be Thankful? The Parable of the Twelve Packages

IMAGINE that you are closing your eyes, and holding out your hands, and that as you do so, twelve mysterious packages are placed into your outstretched hands, one package after another, at regular intervals.

How do you feel?

Do you feel excited?

Do you feel apprehensive?

Do you feel scared?

Most of us, I think, would feel happy and excited, knowing that we are going to receive a gift… let alone twelve of them!

Ooh, a present!

What could be behind that pretty paper?

What could be hidden inside that mysterious box?

Now imagine that across from you there is another person, someone you don’t recognize or know.

That person too is standing there with their eyes closed, and their hands stretched out.

That person, too, receives a mysterious wrapped package, one after the other, 12 of them.

But does that person react the same way you do?

Let’s peek in on him or her and see.

Hmmmm… that person seems to be mumbling and talking to him or herself (let’s make our mystery person be whatever gender YOU are).

So what is our mystery person saying to him or herself as he or she waits for the next mysterious package to be dropped into their waiting palm?

They seem to be worried and stressed.

They are saying, “Oh gosh! I hope this next one is going to be something I like. I hope it’s a house or a car or a date with that cute person I’ve had my eye on. Or maybe this next package will contain a marriage proposal. Or an apology from that person at work. Or maybe some cash.”

Let’s peek at them as they unwrap the package.

Uh oh. They seem to be disappointed. Apparently, they don’t like what’s in the package.

They seem sad, or angry, or frustrated, or put upon or hurt.

That seems like an odd way to react to getting a present, doesn’t it?

Yet now let’s realize something.

Open your eyes and notice, that there’s a mirror in front of you, and…

…. that mystery person pouting as they open their surprise package is… surprise! YOU.

The packages represent the experiences life brings us throughout the hours we are awake, or throughout the months of the year, or throughout the seasons of our lives.

Whatever the time scale: seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, seasons, years, or our entire life… we are constantly receiving gifts.

But are we constantly THANKFUL for them?

Do we even RECOGNIZE them as gifts?

It’s (usually, though not always) easy to be thankful when good things happen in our lives.

Or is it?

Many of us have more trouble than we might admit, being thankful for good things in our lives, let alone for the challenges and obstacles that are an unavoidable part of every life.

And most of us don’t even recognize those challenges and obstacles as gifts.

So we are certainly not thankful for them.

Well, why SHOULD we be thankful for obstacles and challenges, after all?

That is a subject we will be exploring at length in the days and weeks and months ahead.

That is a subject that can, and will, change our lives.

For now, let’s go back to our parable about the packages.

Imagine how stressful it would be, if you knew you were going to receive 12 packages, but you had no idea what was going to be in each one.

Would it be something you like, that would make your life better?

Or would it be a hassle or an illness or a difficult person or more work to do or a bill to pay or a problem you can’t solve?

You would not know how to think, feel and react from minute to minute, would you?

Should you be happy?

Should you be sad?

Should you be angry?

Should you be thankful?

The answer is, yes.

You should be thankful.

We should all be thankful.


Under all conditions.

For everything.


Because everything that comes into our life contains a gift for us.

That is the subject we will be exploring together, on this blog.

We will look at the gifts that come into our lives (often in disguised forms that make us want to reject the package, to send the “gift” back).

We have all the time in the world.

We are not in a hurry.

There is no pressure here to BUY NOW or to MAKE THAT SALE.

You have already bought. You have already paid, because

you have signed up for life on this planet and YOU ARE HERE.

In this blog we will focus on what that means.

What does it mean to be here, now?

What does it mean to unwrap the package that THIS time, THIS place, in THIS Life you are living, brings?

How would it feel to be TRULY thankful for everything, to appreciate the gifts that are constantly coming to us, that surround us in every moment, whether we recognize them or not?

How can we recognize these gifts better and react more appropriately to receiving them?

That is the journey of exploration we will be making together.

Imagine how much less stress there would be in our lives if we did not have to wonder or worry about what life would be handing us.

If we did not have to worry about what is going to be in the package that the next hour brings.

Will it be something good, or something bad?

Something I like, or something I don’t?

What if we already knew, already deeply trusted and believed (as we stand there with our eyes closed and our palms stretched out) that EVERYTHING that comes into our lives is a gift that we are truly thankful for?

If you are like me, and you are being honest with yourself, you will admit that most of us are a long way from truly feeling that way.

A lot of things that come into our lives don’t feel like gifts at all, and we are far from thankful for them.

We will be exploring those feelings in the days and weeks ahead.

Now imagine that it’s a year from now, and we’ve been exploring this subject of being truly thankful, not as an abstract theoretical idea, not as something we “should do”, but as a minute by minute, 24 hour practice, every day of our lives.

Imagine building an attitude of thankfulness the way you build core strength in Pilates: as a basic posture that gives you stability, balance and strength to face the world, to gracefully handle whatever life brings you.

Imagine that you are feeling happy and balanced and gracious and serene, because you are so thankful for receiving 12 packages, every day.

You are thankful because you already know what is in each of those packages:

A wonderful gift for you.

Something that will help you learn and grow.

Something that will enrich you in ways you can’t even imagine.