grat·i·tude – /ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/ (n)
As described by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary; gratitude is “the state of being grateful: Thankfulness; Appreciation”.
Nature has two main definitions: “the natural world; “Mother Earth” and inherent features; or something’s character.
“The Nature of Gratitude” struck me as an incredibly complex phrase because it could be interpreted in two very dynamic ways. Was it about how we, as humans, interpret the character of gratitude? Or was it an intricately woven phrase to incorporate how Mother Nature embraces us in a form of gratitude?
As soon as Tuesday, November 13th arrived, and my class concluded for the night, I biked as quickly as my frozen limbs would let me back to my car. I settled into my driver’s seat still wondering what the heck “The Nature of Gratitude” was all about, but I would soon find out. I made my way downtown towards the Old World Deli on 2nd Street and after finally managing to find a parking spot on a surprisingly busy Tuesday night, I walked down the sidewalk underneath the half colorful trees, unconsciously grateful for the crunching of leaves that had fallen beneath my feet. Again, to my surprise, I found the venue filled to the brim with guests, so many so that it spilled out into the hallway. I may have been the youngest one there, but the reassuring smiles from my community reminded me that it didn’t matter.
Gratitude is for everyone.
The night began with a devoted duo by the names of Eric Alan and Tom Titus, who were the visionaries behind this event, now proudly beginning their 4thannual celebration of “The Nature of Gratitude”. They each recited short stories and poetry from their own complicated journey with gratitude and began with the idea that true gratitude is to “be awake”. The analogy given was: “much like the action of a carpenter”, gratitude takes effort and care, especially mentally. Their point was that gratitude is something one has to try to do, or have, or show. To truly be aware of gratitude is to be more in touch with the environment, the people around you, and all the things that they both provide to enrich our lives.
The theme of the night was “Roots”, and the theme changes every year. I found this particularly fitting since Thanksgiving was just around the corner. Jorah LaFleur blessed the audience with an incredible piece centered on roots, which she deemed a work in progress. Nailing everything controversial about Thanksgiving, she brought in her own personal ties with her ancestral land, the life the land so graciously provided, and how we have walked on the backs of these ancestors who knew gratitude the most. I was left heartbroken at yet another reminder of the ugly truth of nation’s history: the “education” I received in grade school was not founded on gratitude but greed.
What better way to demolish greed than to give? That is exactly what one woman did. Eugene-based singer-songwriter Halie Loren, enveloped in an Alaskan childhood, gave her heart and soul in an appropriately named song “Roots” with her incredible vocals and piano lead melodies. To listen to Halie Loren’s music, visit: https://halieloren.com. Her lyrics repeat the phrase “will you love what you see”, the first fundamental step in practicing gratitude. The nods from the crowd to the beat of the music acknowledged that gratitude is all in how we view things. We can choose to have gratitude towards something or we can choose to not. That is why it takes an effort to engage with gratitude.
Cassandra Robertson also gave her incredible passion for gratitude through her soulful voice and acoustic vibrations into the consciousness of the crowd. Her song “Future as I see it” begins with “Here’s to the ones who’ve come before us, here’s to the ones who’ll come next”. Already she sets the stage that gratitude is about appreciating everyone at every place and time. It’s “for the animals, the habitat, and the trees”. To listen to Cassandra Robertson’s music, visit: https://cassandrarobertson.com/music. Her lyrics are centered on togetherness, rising up, and basically how by showing true gratitude, one can attract more of it.
Gratitude is a mindset gained by paying attention to your surroundings. One that Charles Goodrich has incorporated into his collection of poems he so kindly shared. Comically teasing us with a variety of poems from his two books “Insects of South Corvallis” and “Going to Seed: Dispatches from the Garden”, he was able to beautifully weave the minuscule world of garden life into more tangible life lessons for us humans. Goodrich’s surroundings were the immaculate garden he had created in the backyard of his Knot House abode in South Town Corvallis and every day he tended to it he was reminded of the intricacies of all living forms of life; something he urged us to pay more attention to. To show that gratitude can be found for the way an entire biotic community can come together to produce life in the forms of fruits and vegetables. To learn more about Charles Goodrich visit: http://www.charlesgoodrich.com. “Our world is a garden,” he said, and for each of us to truly flourish, we need to tend and nurture each other in order to grow.
To grow means to have a foundation built on gratitude. For yourself, the lives around you, and the workings of the natural world. Everything is worthy of showing gratitude towards. One just needs to be awake, put in the genuine effort, know your roots, give, share, and to acknowledge your surroundings to let the world know you care.
Thank you for your sensitive, insightful thoughts on The Nature of Gratitude. We really appreciated being able to bring the event to Corvallis this year, and look forward to making it an annual event there. Day by day, year by year, we’re learning so much about gratitude as it manifests in us, and how to better make it build shelter for others. Gratitude is carpentry, indeed. I appreciate your own skilled contribution!