Well, it definitely was not in my mind. Yesterday I was sick -- sitting at home, lying either on the couch or in bed. I slept late, took a very long nap, and went to bed early as well. I still feel rundown and exhausted.
But by the end of last night, after watching "Million Dollar Baby" for the first time, I took stock and gave thanks. For a great many things, including that I am healthy 99.5% of the time (#25). But even if I weren't, there would be reason to give thanks. Being unhealthy in any form makes us think about human frailty, our own mortality and, because of that, what really matters in life.
Along those lines, I want to share that this month I've been reading Life On the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death and Redefining the Way We Eat by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas. Achatz is an amazing chef, who by the age of 34 had won the Outstanding Chef Award from the James Beard Foundation (as everyone says: "think the Oscars for chefs") for his work at Alinea, the restaurant he and Kokonas started. He's also credited for redefining the way America thinks of restaurants and, even further, eats. His creativity and superior execution alone are humbling.
But Life on the Line, as the subtitle gives away, is about more than Achatz's journey as a chef and his partnership with Kokonas. It's about his fight with cancer, namely Stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth. In layman's terms, that means he had a life-threatening form of cancer of the tongue, throat and lymph nodes. After six months of intense chemotherapy and radiation treatments (from summer through December 2007), which left him incredibly frail and unable to taste, his cancer was pronounced in remission. But the fight didn't end there physically or emotionally, as he was still ill, weak and unable to taste. Nevertheless, every day that he was able he thought up new dishes and/or was in the kitchen executing incredibly complex dishes. Even when others thought he shouldn't.
It is remarkable, then, that he won the award for Outstanding Chef when he did: in 2008. He was awarded the highest recognition he could ever receive at a time when he fought for his life and depended on his sous chefs to taste his dishes and realize his vision. His determination to fight and to be the best he could be at the same time are inspiring. And they're reminder #26 to take stock and give thanks.
Please leave your own experiences and reminders to be grateful and humble in the Comments section.