As I witness the long snaking lines that form in front of stores on Black Friday, I cannot help but think about the massive irony that is Thanksgiving. First, people thank the Lord about how blessed they are to have all that they have, and then proceed to stuff their faces with a disgusting amount of food, knowing full well that there are people starving on the streets. Then, as soon as the sun sets, these very people who are 'thankful for all that they have', hop in their cars to go on a shopping spree like there is no tomorrow. If you are not able to find the tiniest of ironies in that, I would like to award you with the 'Ignorant Capitalist of the Year' award. But I am not here to talk about politics or race or religion or any of that nonsense. I am here merely to pose a question; a question that may seem to have a clearer cut answer than others. Are you really thankful?
Thankfulness is a concept that we created based on the amount of happiness that we have for something. This makes it completely subjective and qualitative. However, much like the emotion of love, we know for certain whether or not the emotion of happiness is present or not. Someone once said that love is the only emotion capable of transcending time, space and dimension, but I beg to differ. Happiness can also be felt through different chronological, spacial, and dimensional points. For example, I could be in a galaxy far away from earth, a million years behind earth time, and still appreciate a musical recording of Michael Jackson that was taken in 1989. If I did not have an emotional connection with that recording, however, things may be a little bit different. It is very well then, that music provokes emotion in us. Whether they are good or bad emotions, it does not matter. Being able to feel emotions is what makes us human.
A month or two before my grandfather passed away, I had the chance to sing a song for him. The song in particular that I sang for him, called "Umi Sono Ai", which translates to "Ocean, Your Limitless Love” meant a lot for both of us. It was originally sung by a singer from my grandfather's generation, and is about the grandeur of the ocean, a place that was very dear to his heart as he grew up in the port city of Yokosuka. It also happens to be the graduation song of my high school, as it talks about setting sail from home and going on an adventure into the unknown. As I sang the song, I witnessed my grandfather, who had been bed-ridden for half a decade and who had remained in a state of constant confusion between being awake and being in a dream, come back to life. His drowsy eyes suddenly opened wide, and his frown turned into a smile. For a moment, his ability to feel emotions kicked in. He was human again. It was a beautiful sight to behold. It was at this moment that I witnessed the power of music in real time. As I finished singing, a string of words came out of my grandfather's mouth in such a smooth fashion that it reminded me of my childhood, in which he would talk to me about history as I sat on his lap. "Be grateful for the gift of music that was given to you by the gods above. Be grateful for your parents for letting you share this gift to the world by having you as I am grateful for them for providing me with a grandson like you to whom the gift of music was given." He said before falling asleep again.
The next time I heard his voice was the last time, and this is what he said "I may not see you for a very long time, but remember this: always be grateful for what you have. I am grateful that I had you." The next day I left for Boston to start a new adventure.
I am a true believer in the power of music, as I am sure many people are, and I am thankful that I have been able to realise it. It may be hard to be thankful when things are looking down, but we must never forget that someone out there, whether they be in a different time zone, space, or dimension, really appreciates us. And for this, I am truly thankful.
~Edward Sho Sweeney