CHRISTOPHER PALANUK, PHOTOGRAPHER
”Count what you have now/ Don’t count what you don’t have/ Find that you have so much.” Mariya Takeuchi sang those words in her song ”Measure of Happiness” in a 2008 maxi single from Japan. Considering how long it took to find a physical copy for purchase online, I’m going to assume it wasn’t one of her biggest hits. That, and with it being a Japanese pop song, it isn’t exactly formed with a western audience in mind.
But why am I talking about it for Thanksgiving? What does a lonely 80’s infused city pop song from around the world have to do with me chewing the fat about blessings?
Even if it isn’t popular, or necessarily Western, it does hold all of the values of what Thanksgiving has become to me. It’s about worry, time and choice. Worrying over what cannot be controlled, wondering if I’m running out of time to do the things I haven’t done, and wishing that I didn’t even have to choose. Sound familiar?
Ever heard this a day before Thanksgiving: ”I’ve got to put the turkey in the oven, set the table, make sure that relative doesn’t sit next to this one, figure out who’s saying grace, examine the stove before dad sets the house on fire, make sure that relative eats only that food so they don’t have an allergic reaction, check for the Black Friday deals for Christmas presents, plan a gym membership to lose the weight…” The thought of it all gives me an anxiety attack and that’s only one scenario!
But before I board that soul-sucking deathtrap, this song’s ultimate message reminds me that this stuff isn’t what matters. It’s about taking into account what I can control, and putting aside the things I cannot tackle. It’s about looking at the things, people and memories I do have from the year and being grateful for even having them. It’s about making the choice to be content in spite of the holiday season push and find that I do have all I’ve ever needed.
So, yes: I am very thankful to God this year for a new job, being relatively healthy and all of the fun memories I got to share with friends and family. But as I close, I simply want to challenge you as Mariya challenged her listeners this Turkey Day: ”If you can count what you don’t have enough of, then try counting what you do!” Maybe that’s the real measure of happiness.
Have a happy Thanksgiving and God bless!