Being Sunday and all, I was musing over my lapsed Catholicism wondering if there was anything in its teaching that can be recycled. Kindness came to mind along with generosity, but the thing that gleamed brightest was gratitude that made me take humble pause.
I wallow a lot. I have that moody, Cancerian nature that pulls me inward like a little girl. I’ve always had it. My mother liked telling the tale of when I was really small, if my feelings got hurt I would sit in my miniature rocking chair with a couple of Dwarfs (I had all 7) and furiously rock until my upset passed.
As a big girl I still rock, but without Doc and Sneezy and instead of a chair I lie across my bed and wail as if the world was coming to an end. Yes, I’m into drama, I’ll admit it. It sizzles in my DNA.
I do know though when I stop and take stock of all the things I have as opposed to what’s missing my gloom tends to lift.
In 12 Step they refer to this as ‘changing your attitude with gratitude’ and you know what? They’ve got something there.
Sounds like a bumper sticker? If only they’d make one. Imagine how much better you’d feel waiting in traffic for that light to change.
When you stop and ‘count your blessings’ as they say, you realize life isn’t as rough as you think.
Take water for instance. I’ve been having an affair with it my entire life. Along with taking 2 showers and a bath a day, it’s my chief beverage and not once do I ever stop and say, thank God for water.
Well, I do now, but only after reading about all the countries in the world that don’t have it and the water they do have is so contaminated it’s undrinkable.
I cannot tell you how amazed I was learning this. It’s not that I didn’t know, but who thinks about it? We have it, we’ve always had it, so let’s move on to something more important like the Prada sample sale I’m heading to.
Yes I jest, but it’s not funny and I’m happy to say my conscience got seriously tweaked by this unexpected revelation.
I started to send money every month to ‘Joyce Meyer Ministries’ after learning that one of the things they do as missionaries is to go into villages across the world to dig clean wells. This struck such a chord that every time I shower I now say, thank you God for clean water.
Yeah, the fallen Catholic still prays.
For those avid atheists out there Matt Damon’s H2o Africa or water.org does similar work.
I’m not telling you to pull out your checkbook, but I am suggesting that you think of something basic you feel you couldn’t live without; meat, soap, your eyes, something that you pretty much take for granted and ask yourself, what would life be without it? What I guarantee it will do is put the things you are concerned with like, ‘shit, they don’t have my size,’ into their proper perspective.
I can be very frivolous. I’ve been known to get suicidal over a cracked nail. I mean it, the littlest set-back will ruin my day but what I’ve learned is gratitude counters this.
My building needs a new boiler so the heat goes off I’d say twice a week. I never paid much attention to the heat before until I didn’t have it. I either have to call Trudy, my neighbor, to ask to sleep on her lumpy sofa or stay home and sleep in my coat. Now I do everything short of kissing the radiator when it’s happily hissing. It took the loss of something so primitive to get me to appreciate it.
It’s a pity I didn’t appreciate it before it was taken away, but that’s how it works. Sometimes when God needs your attention he’s forced to give you a good smack.
A new age way of saying this would be ‘receiving a psychic whack.’
Take your pick.
I’ve been complaining about the smokers in my building compromising the air. This never happened before. Now, on the occasion when I don’t smell it, my thankfulness is tenfold.
Gratitude is an organic gift that dwells within that only needs to be activated, you know, like a new credit card but unlike Am Ex there’s no monthly fee.
My list of what I’m grateful for grows by the day. You’re all on it for reading what I write by the way.
I never realized how lucky I was until I took a serious inventory.
Yes, there are many things I don’t have like a great ass, a cosmetic contract and George Clooney’s phone number, among other deprivations, but despite these yearnings my cup so runneth over.