Giving Thanks

2000-11-23

I received a short but sweet email from a friend:

Just a quick note to wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving. You're one of the many reasons I am so thankful this season.

I'm not self-absorbed enough to think that he sent something like this just to me. But he sent it. And it made me realize that however much I appreciate the times we live in -- our material and intellectual abundance, the harvest that comes no longer merely from the farm but also from the factory and the office -- what I most appreciate are the friends I've made and have kept (even the friends I've lost, for the value we created and shared). Whitman, whose poems I'm slowly working through, says something quite similar in one or two of his earlier poems, let me see if I can find it...

Hmm, I must not have dog-eared that page (though I'm sure Whitman's poetry is out on the web -- in fact I think if Whitman were writing today, Leaves of Grass would be a website that he changed endlessly). Here's a passage close to what I was thinking of:

I have perceived that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing,
   laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever
   so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this
   then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.

There is something in staying close to men and women and
   looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that
   pleases the soul well,
All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.

--Walt Whitman, I Sing the Body Electric, §4

(Postscript: I found Whitman's poems online at the Walt Whitman Hypertext Archive.)


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