Thursday, April 30, 2020

COVID19 in-house Day 45: Grateful for X

I started a gratitude alphabet but I'm starting from the end of the alphabet and moving up towards the beginning. It seemed like a good idea in these topsy-turvy times.

Today's gratitude letter is "X".

What is X? X is all those times when you felt bad. The missed opportunities, the broken promises, the betrayals, the words said in anger, the lost friend, the sick child, the lies, the fear, the sneer and the disdain.

Oh, what? Why am I grateful for all these things?

Let me turn that around and ask: would I only be grateful for the "good" things? Should I only be grateful for the things that make me happy? The things that feel nice? 

Or is being grateful a state of mind and a quality of spirit that endures, anyway. In qualunque momento e ovunque. Anytime, anywhere. Because, fundamentally, being grateful implies that you are aware that there is a world that's bigger than you can know, and you are grateful for that world, and open to its possibilities, to the extent that you admit that although sometimes the possibilities are manifest in an unpleasant or downright horrific and traumatic way, you decide to remain open, and to remain grateful.

Grateful for X means that I accept that awful and horrible things can happen in my life, or I can witness those things happening in the lives of others, and I don't have to either pretend they're not happening, or allow those things to destroy my belief in the power of love. 

No, I'm not talking about "everything happens for a reason." Reason has nothing to do with it. People with an intense, firmly rooted religious life might be able to believe that everything that happens to them is part of God's plan. This isn't a reasonable choice, that is, it isn't based on reason: it's a choice based on faith. You decide to have faith, and then you just have it, come what may.

It's the same with gratitude. Like a long marriage, I'm not going to only stay with my spouse when things are fun, sexy, and fulfilling. I'll also stick around when my spouse is acting badly (I'm not talking about actual abuse here), has the flu, gets old, or is having a life crisis. I will decide to be grateful, and then I'll just be grateful. I'm not only going to be grateful for the good, wonderful, fulfilling things that I receive. I have to be grateful for the whole bundle, or my gratitude isn't worth anything at all.

How do we continue to be grateful in these difficult times? I'm disturbed today. It's pouring out, so the streets are empty which means I can go for my 8 k run, so I'm grateful that I can run. But I have things on my mind: a friend lost her child last week - why? Why should someone who escaped persecution and death in Syria, who fled through Turkey, survived the rubber dinghy ride over to Greece, survived the camps, .... then lose a child in his sleep? I can worry endlessly about my kids for various valid and not valid reasons. I worry about my running buddy who is recovering from chemo. Of course, there's this virus out there that is not a hoax or a conspiracy, but is actually a dangerously infectious virus that can kill people. There's another thing to torment me.  I'm worried about my business: when can we open? How will we open? How will I hear what people are saying if they're wearing masks? (I'm a little hard of hearing and often rely on lips).

But I HAVE to be grateful. For the good things, and for the snakes and toads. 

Grateful for the flaws, the dark patches, the cracks, the scars. Grateful for lessons. Grateful for the black crow, glasses too full, mysteries. 

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