Gratitude is a practice. Many people think of it as an attribute or as a characteristic and I suppose that once the practice becomes ingrained it could become such a thing. But the truth is that the older you get, the more reason you have to give up the practice. Life is magical and it’s finite. So it stands to reason that one might lose sight of all that’s been given as the road ahead grows shorter and shorter and you pass quicker and quicker.
But it doesn’t take a lot of time to list 3 things you are thankful for. From there you can easily name ten more. After that you’ve learned that the silly rules you have for what you can put on such a list are meaningless and you can start to feel actual gratitude for water or air or grapes just as you do for your parents or your friends or your wife or your kids. Thankfully optimism born of gratitude, though harder to practice at times, has the same slippery slope effect as pessimism born of bitterness, but in reverse. The trick is to so ingrain the practice that it can’t disappear completely. So that you can go about listing all that is magical and worthy of gratitude even when your inclination is to sit in the dark. Darkness’ greatest tool is patience. You must provide equal tools to light. Even then, darkness can sneak in under the door.
My life is magically wonderful right now, but that didn’t stop a couple of blips over the weekend from knocking me down a bit. My gratitude muscles must be weakened at the moment. Thankfully the journey of writing here has provided me with a certain degree of fearlessness and has allowed me to be vulnerable in broad daylight. Turns out this amounts to something as it was this vulnerability that helped me regain my feet.
Yesterday I took to the internet the second I’d heard my exciting news I’d pretty much publicized to the world had fallen through. I’m not going to be in the book I was so proud to be in. It was going to be my first time being published. Turns out I fell short by one hurdle. I didn’t think I was bummed, I actually felt a bit of relief. It wasn’t my best work and it was not improved as much as I’d hoped through editing. But I found myself annoyed with the world. Frustrated and ungrateful.
Then I went back and read a post from a friend from my youth that she put up on facebook last night, presumably after reading my announcement. A person that was and apparently remains, always kind and thoughtful. She wrote this:
‘I’m really proud of you joey & love reading your work! Keep it up’
I should always be in good practice with gratitude. This time I wasn’t. Thankfully there was someone there to throw me a rope before I got to comfortable in the dark. Thank you!