In this episode of Waking Up Bipolar, Chris Cole shares a small talk on gratitude. He speaks from the heart to pray and inspire the sacred ritual of giving thanks.
Giving thanks. Expressing Gratitude. These are the most ancient, pure forms of spirituality. When I was a kid, whenever we would play a pickup game, my best friend Brandon would call me the “black hole,” because I would forget to pass the rock in favor of brick after brick. So let me offer my most sincere appreciation for my Teachers, who are many, and yet there are all-stars. Let’s do it chronologically…
First and foremost, I want to thank my parents, who taught me that Love was something unconditional and immeasurable. Infinite in fact. They taught me the math equation: Love equals Infinity. They taught me spiritual laws, which transcended particularities of denomination. One time I asked my father, do you love God or your Family more? He said something like, “Family is a Gift from God.”
Second, I want to thank my friends. I grew up in public schools, where lunch tables were all the rage. Who you sat with, and why you sat with them, was a whole universe of complexity. My Black peers let me sit at their table, when I felt like such an outcast. They taught me about how to do the tootsie roll and what the best R&B stations were. I was introduced to Boys II Men, and I began learning what it meant to grow up. When I transitioned to private school, I experienced a lot of bullying. It made me sad, but it made me strong. I have complicated feelings about this time. I learned theology and philosophy. I learned languages. I’ll always appreciate learning. And I vow to always be learning.
Third, I want to thank my confirmation process. I became Catholic and took on the Patron Saint Christopher, which happens to also be my namesake. Bearer of Christ. There’s the story of Christopher, who carried the young Jesus across the river. He was a giant. He felt that he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. He became the saint of travel and safe passage. When I feel lost, I still call on Christopher. I will always call on him.
Fourth, I want to thank mental health recovery communities. I was a profound addict. Sometimes, I still am quite addicted to my own juice. Addiction is a mighty thing that conquers many people. I had to learn what it meant to let go of resentment as a practice in addition to a prayer. I had to learn forgiveness as a discipline more than an aspiration. I was humbled to continuously return to the earth. I remain humbled by the earth.
Fifth, I need to thank Dharma Teachers. Dharma essentially means “Truth.” What I learned in Dharma circles is that God and Dharma are not in conflict. I learned that very little is truly in conflict. I learned to deepen my appreciation for non-violence. I learned to deepen my appreciation for individual and collective liberation. Many of my misunderstandings of Christ were resolved in the scientific inquiry of mind. I could see how Judaism and Christianity were not in conflict. I could see how every faith tradition had Love woven throughout. Specifically, though there are many teachers with whom I’ve crossed paths, I want to thank the following Buddhist teachers by name: Kyodoshi, Lama Rod Owens, Acharya Dale Asrael, Reggie Ray and Caroline Pfohl, Frank Berliner, and Bill Scheffel. I have loved every lineage I have come into contact with, but these teacher specifically have saved my life and led me out of confusion.
Sixth, and this is where time bends a little. I need to thank my children, who are my greatest teachers. My first son was born on Leap Day 2012. I was caught up in the Mayan Calendar, and I honestly thought that while the world wasn’t ending, my world was. Becoming a father utterly and completely changed my life. I began to envision a world where they could thrive, not in com