Oh boy, here I go again.
I was thinking recently about words that I spoke to my own child, trying to encourage her to be thankful for everything that she has. It’s a rather abstract concept for a 5 year old, when you think about it. But here I was, laying it out for her that her parents had worked very hard to make her happy that night; I was not asking for anything more than her to think about everything we have that others don’t and in some cases never will.
Me being the overly-thoughtful sissy that I am (I was once nicknamed “Captain Sensitive” by a close friend), I had to give thought to my own words in that moment as it once again brought me to the realization that for everything that someone can complain about—from work load to traffic jams to DVR malfunctions to computer issues with that stupid piece of junk we spent so much money on—it’s very important to realize that what everything we have is a blessing.
Naturally, this does not diminish or celebrate the differences between those in the world who have so very little and those who have so very much. Nor does it mean I’m prattling on about how I should be guilty (as some might claim) about living in a land of plenty with access to so much.
Rather, I’m just speaking to the feeling of gratefulness. I don’t know the dictionary term for it off the top of my head.
But it’s that serene sense of contentment that we’re healthy (relatively speaking), have food in the refrigerator, hot and cold running water and a family that is expressively loving (for the most part; I can be a grumpy jackass from time to time).
It’s a wave of serenity that I’ve learned to use in those moments at work where someone isn’t listening, or they use their persuasive skills to railroad me into a different path than the one that makes the best sense. And I’m not talking about a point of view thing. I’m talking about those moments when you’re telling everyone that the rocket’s pointed at the ground but they’re lighting the fuse anyway.
And yeah, I think that I’m finally learning to use it when in traffic now too. Like this morning when I saw the wreck that was altering traffic, guaranteeing I’d be a few minutes late to work, I said a little prayer for the people involved and was grateful that I wasn’t the one in the accident. What’s the worst that can happen? I have to work a little late? I didn’t cause the accident and I wasn’t in the accident, so the rest takes care of itself.
And it serves as a good mental check about something I’d noticed about that intersection recently: it’s been getting more and more dangerous as people take stupider chances to get into the main flow of traffic 30 seconds quicker.
Think clearly, be grateful and let it go. Everything will unfold as it should; you can’t force it.
And I think that’s the power of gratefulness. Being humbly satisfied with who and what you are, not because you have achieved anything great (none of us, not even the most powerful, have anything to compare to the glory of God’s Creation) but because you have managed to survive in the first place, is a tremendously wonderful thing.
So I’m going to try harder to be more grateful, more humbly accepting of the fact that life is made up of the little moments like when my daughter blindsides me with a Kevin Flynn reference or says Qui-Gon “made a face like Daddy.”
Or when my other daughter gives me a look that I know she inherited from me to break a tense moment or let me know that “OK, Daddy, you win this round. But I’m learning.”
Heck, it’s sitting down to dinner with someone with whom you didn’t realize you had so much in common.
So here’s to life. It ain’t so bad. And if it seems like it is, someone can help you find out how to make it suck less so long as you ask. I hope that in some way, I can help others whose path to happiness is harder.
And I promise I’ll get back to something more “controversial” next time. Just in one of those moods tonight.