I woke up this morning and I felt great. You know that feeling when everything seems right, and even if just for a few minutes, life is beautiful?! It wasn’t an easy task, but I kept that feeling driving through town, when for some reason a few people decided that it would make my day to wave to me with just one finger? I suppose they hurt the other four? I just waved and smiled back! I decided that just because they hurt their fingers didn’t mean I couldn’t be happy about their “thought-filled” wave. Yeah right! Everything after the word beautiful above is a lie! I wasn’tthrilled when that happened and it ruined my morning. Why? Because I am human, and suddenly I forgot the rest of my morning. I forgot to be grateful for the rest.
I got to work and sat down to write to all of you, still a tad upset, and I thought about what the bracelet I am wearing symbolizes. The bracelet I am wearing reminds one that sometimes we are briefly on top of the world and sometimes we are briefly in despair but the rest of the time we are living our lives. And I thought about how most of us continue to live our lives when we have been rocked and dashed about the rocks so brutally sometimes. And there are times we go on to embrace the quiet after a momentous time in our lives has passed even if we feel it will never be that great again. How does one go on? Gratitude.
I know what some of you are thinking. “Here goes another person who is doing better than I am because they live in “GRATITUDE!” And perhaps you are thinking, “I have tried and tried and still life can be so difficult and it’s so hard remembering to be grateful!” OF COURSE IT IS! IT’S LIFE! AND IT’S DIFFICULT! If it were all roses and sunshine we wouldn’t learn anything at all about gratitude. What would the point be then? The point of life is to find what gives it meaning.
It is the great things that happen, and the sad things, the mundane things, the fearful things, the quiet times and the chaos. Everything that happens during the “in between” that we forget about. What gives life meaning is those we share it with, our partners, children, our co-workers, friends, our extended family, and our Spiritual Higher Power. Yes, also the driver that cut you off on the way to work this morning, because maybe you didn’t die in an accident because someone slowed you down. The driver saved your life and you didn’t notice. Unfortunately, as human beings we tend to give most of our attention to the extremes. The extremes cause us to stop and take notice, both good and bad. I for one believe that we tend to remember to be grateful when good things happen and we tend to be grateful when bad things stop. Many of us forget the rest. It’s the rest we must be grateful for, because the “rest” is what really matters the most!
What happens to gratitude when the extremes have passed? There is a lot of living that goes on between the highs and the lows. The more we are grateful for that middle part of life the more we see that the day to day is truly the important part, not the extremes. As I have mentioned before when my Dad was getting weaker from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), he wasn’t responding with gratitude because of who was or wasn’t President, and he wasn’t really spending much time talking about the past or the future. The Universe had dealt an extremely physically painful disease on my father, but he didn’t speak about that much. What he showed a great amount of gratitude for was my Mom, who never left his side. He was grateful for every moment he had with her, even if it was filled with watching her cut up his food or helping him cross a room. He was filled with gratitude when watching the birds or listening to his grandchildren’s stories of their day. He was grateful he could still enjoy and swallow a good meal and he was grateful for a foot rub or back scratch. His life was filled with gratitude, and he was slowly dying. He figured it out towards the end, that it isn’t in the extremes that we find true gratitude. It truly is in the small things we take for granted every single day.
None of us need to wait until we are dying to notice what we can be grateful for every single day, which leads to being grateful for every hour and eventually every moment of our lives. It is the gratefulness that opens our eyes and our hearts to the beauty and meaning of our lives. My Dad saw that in the end, but most of us have the chance to see it today and then live life to its fullest before it begins to slip away. Perhaps it starts with waking up tomorrow feeling grateful, knowing that you have been given another day and any number of wonderful things could happen.
When I was writing this article a woman came in and she wanted to know if Merri and I would like to take on a bunch of stainless steel rings that she and her sons had been selling. We didn’t need any but she said she wanted us to sell them to help the local shelter for battered women and their children. We thought the timing could not havebeen more perfect as each one of these rings has one thing only engraved on them. “I am grateful…” Again, it all came together. So we will have these rings ready for purchase as you read this article. They come in sizes 6 through 14 or 16, I believe? They are stainless steel so should be hypoallergenic for nearly all people. Profits from the sale of these rings will be donated to Ana Marie’s Alliance, in St. Cloud.