At this year’s Wanderlust Sydney, ‘lusters from Down Under sure had a lot to be grateful for. The Project Thankful tree was proof of it, its branches bowing low to the weight of a hundred little cards, each offering a glimpse of the yogis’ gratitude.
“I’m thankful for…” My health and the ability to travel the world with my best friend. Yoga + sex. This sunny day. My beautiful family. The answers varied, but, like my own, they all spoke of big things, important things. The type of stuff that would, and did, jump to the front of your mind if you were asked to think about what in the world you were most thankful for.
As I went to hang my card on the tree—“I’m thankful for being able to practice yoga in my favorite city in the world”—I overheard a little boy and his mother filling out their own.
“Honey, what are you thankful for?” asked the mom, and unlike the adults who stood by the tree mulling over what was important enough to write down, the boy didn’t hesitate.
“I’m thankful for Star Wars!” he yelled out, his answer drawing laughter from all of us huddled around the tree. Of all the cards that hung sparkling beneath the Sydney sunshine, it was his that stood out the most. But why?
Later on in the day, I was still thinking about it. To an adult, expressing gratitude for Star Wars might seem silly. No matter how heroic the journey of Luke Skywalker or how wise the words of Yoda, a grown-up mind would probably gravitate to life’s more serious stuff: good health and healthy food on the table, good friends and close family, a place to call home.
But, to a five-year-old, Star Wars is, well, pretty awesome. So, why not be thankful for it? Of course, it’s important to acknowledge the biggest of our blessings, but, the little boy’s answer made me realize that serious isn’t a prerequisite for significant. Sometimes, it’s the silly things that bring the most meaning to our lives, whether it’s Star Wars Episode 5 or a hearty, hiccupping belly-laugh with a best friend.
With that in mind, my four-month stint in Indonesia, Thailand and Australia, which is now coming to an end, looks a lot different. I’ve learned to be grateful for the big and the little, the good and the bad, and everything in-between.
For example, waking up with a hangover from hell in Thailand’s torturous 100-degree heat, and without any water to drink, made me god-awfully grateful for the clean tap water back home. And, since leaving, Thailand I’ve been especially thankful for Sydney’s fast WiFi, which makes it much easier for me to get my work done. But, I will be forever grateful Bali’s lack of it, which offered me a glimpse of the mental tranquility that comes when you replace your nightly Netflix fix with a good paperback.
When I board my plane back to New York this week, I’ll be grateful that the passport in my backpack is an American one, which ranks second in the world in terms of travel freedom and garners access to 172 different countries. I’m certainly grateful that in my 22 years I’ve already been able to visit a handful of them. In doing so, I’ve realized there are a million little things within that big one—the opportunity to travel—to be grateful for:
- Two-dollar fresh young coconuts in Thailand. Two travel partners who, despite being quite carnivorous, didn’t mind eating raw vegan food every day while we were in Bali.
- The woman in Thailand who helped me get home safe, when I got separated from them our first weekend out on the infamous Bangla Road.
- My two working legs that took me all around Bali when I was too scared to drive a motorbike.
- One bottle of an amazing homemade Australian wine. One lightweight yoga mat that’s easy to travel with.
- One safe flight home.
The list goes on, and it’s not without lots of gratitude for the little boy who showed me it’s just as awesome to be thankful for Star Wars as it is to be thankful for the stars in the night sky, and for the sunrise the next day.
So thank you, dude, for showing me that the silly can be just as important as the serious, and that sometimes, it really is the little things that matter most.
A digital media assistant for Wanderlust, Katie Doyle joined the team while traveling southeast Asia. A month after graduating from college, she took her journalism degree on a tour around Indonesia, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. A writer at heart, she lives for the moments when a good story pops in her head – especially when it happens during savasana. In addition to practicing yoga, she is a ski instructor who loves sunshine just as much as she loves snow.