Bianca Henao, 131 TESS
Pure bliss. That’s what I’ve felt all day today. November 28, 2019. It’s Thanksgiving Day. My family and friends are celebrating halfway around the world without me. But, I’m content. There’s food I won’t get to eat, people I won’t get to see, moments I’ll miss. But, here I am at ease. I’m missing them, but I found myself surrounded by love today. I taught my students about Thanksgiving and thankfulness all week. I was touched when the majority wrote, “My Teacher” and gave me wings in their little drawings. I am grateful. I am blessed. I am loved. What an overwhelming realization. I held back tears and had a lump in my throat during my last class of the day when contemplating the week of lessons and the near year I’ve had here in this little village.
If you told me I would be this happy ten months ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. Not everyday is sunshine and rainbows, but there is absolutely a shining light in each day. When I signed up to join the Peace Corps I needed to find gratitude, and I had a gut feeling this push would be the only way. Before coming to Thailand, I was becoming restless, bored, and agitated by every little thing. Nothing brought me happiness equivalent to more than a few moments of instant gratification. My mind had strengthened the negative thought pathways in my brain so much more than the positive ones that they were slowly fading altogether. Everything was glass half empty. I’d lost sight of what was important to me.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s this: Less is more. I’ve found gratitude in the simplicities of life. While stripping back every layer of bullshit and unnecessary pieces, I’ve been slapped into remembering that I should be on my knees every single day thanking God or whomever is up there for every blessing I have, and believe me they are plentiful. The explanation is simple. The more we have, the more we feel we should build on it, and our focus becomes obsessed with the unattainable. The less we have, the more we focus on what we have and just how much we treasure it. When you remove toxic people from your life, you cherish the ones you hold dear. When you get rid of half your materialistic belongings, well… it’s definitely easier to get ready in the morning. When you focus on the present, you stop thinking about how it could be better. When you are living in the moment it is so authentic that you can actually enjoy that moment the same way a kid enjoys a popsicle on a hot day after playing with friends… not a care in the world.
I have found gratitude, and with this, I’ve found so much joy. It’s not something you wake up with and have permanently once you’ve found it. Gratitude is something you work for every day. Gratitude is something you have to constantly remind yourself of. Something to box up and keep safe while also not forgetting. Now, I’m holding on to gratitude the same way I cling to the air I breathe and the goal, forever.