Monday, October 12, 2009

Give a Little Thanks

Every night when I snuggle down into the bed (I can’t say “my bed”, as I haven’t actually slept on my own in over 14 months), just before dozing off I mentally say a quick little prayer of thanks: Thanks for the purely safe, warm and delightful feeling that that pocket of time between wake and slumber unfailingly brings and for how lucky I am to be able to experience it every night (save for a few nights of dodgy accommodations and situations whilst on my world travels); thanks for making it through another day in one piece and without causing anyone else too much harm, either, hopefully; thanks that I get to close my eyes and check out of the world for a few hours in the form of that most awesome of states, sleep; thanks for the knowledge that I’m most likely going to wake up in the morning with a chance to start over. It’s a simple and innocent little exercise that makes me feel good; like I’ve taken care of business, no matter what shenanigans might have taken place in my day.

What I’m not sure of is why it makes me feel that way.

Where does the power of gratitude come from? Is there one? Does saying “thank you” feel good simply because it forces us to get out of our own way for a minute, to realize that we’re pretty damned lucky just as we are despite our constant soundtrack of self-aggrandized woes?

There are endless writings dedicated to gratitude: the essence and power of it, how to practice it, what can manifest in your life as a result of said practice and so on. I’ve read some on it, listened to one mind-bendingly complicated CD book on it, dabbled around with the concept from time to time. I do believe there’s something to it, but suffice it to say you won’t find any inspirational plaques or posters on my walls attesting to the secrets and miracles I’ve discovered about it.

I’ve never gotten anywhere particularly epiphany-worthy with the concept of gratitude beyond the simplified knowledge that it makes me feel good and present and alive and humble and yes – out of my own way - when I do it. Whether the universal laws of attraction and all that really do come into play, I don’t know. I just know that it feels right.

Interestingly (at least to me), the most powerful moments related to my own personal gratitude occur completely unexpectedly, at random times and places. I think I like these moments even more because they are unscheduled, unforeseen, and thus incredibly powerful – a feeling similar to when you’re in the ocean and a wave sneaks up from behind you and catches you by surprise, taking your breath away. Except the gratitude moments are less salty.

Full moons, out-of-place rainbows, the riotous colours of the leaves on the trees that stand ragged sentinel along my route to Ontario. When I run. When I write. When I work out, when I walk and talk with my best friend, when it rains, when I think about my island paradise. At the risk of getting too wall-plaque-ish-sounding, there really are countless random moments and things that I find myself grateful for.

Naturally, as is also the law of the universe, it’s not always that easy to be grateful. Struggling to find work was a tough one to be thankful for, until my best friend reminded me how lucky I was to have had 18 months off to do essentially whatever I want with. I haven’t dreaded a Monday morning, yearned for 5pm on Friday, sat in a boring meeting or had to wake up with an alarm clock since May 1, 2008. Fantastic, and for the vast majority of people, unattainable.

And now, the pendulum has swung in the complete opposite direction. I’ve bitten off more than I can chew work-wise taking on not two, not three, but count ‘em, FOUR jobs - and am quite frankly terrified to get back to Montreal and try to hit the ground running. I’ve got two months of nonstop madness ahead of me, and I’ve no idea how I’ll get it all done without pissing anyone off or having some type of breakdown myself, or worst of all, getting canned from one of said four jobs. Here too I must constantly remind myself to be thankful instead of freaking out and whining. A little more than a month ago I had no job at all, no money coming in, and no certainty about what I was going to do or where I was going to go next. Now suddenly I’m being paid to write – my dream come true – and with the other three jobs I’ve still somehow managed to avoid the corporate world and its capers (although I’m not allowed to wear jeans when I teach, which I silently but eternally protest).

So far, I’ve done it. So far, so good. I must learn to be thankful for the bags under my eyes that will appear, for the lack of sleep, for the pressure and the stress that are coming. It means I’m working hard. It means I’m working, period. It means I can finally afford get a place to call home (can I? I feel short of breath even writing it); it means I am contributing again.

It is in those moments, more than all others – when I want to quit, give up, cry, hide under the covers – that I - that all of us - must remember to say thank you.

I’m home now, in my old room and my old bed again. It’s my last day of hiding out from the big crazy world, tucked away safe and sound here under mom’s nurturing wing where nobody can get me. In a few hours the smell of roasting turkey and pumpkin pie will fill the air and we will raise a glass of wine and toast each other and this will be all that counts for a brief while.

It’s a nice tradition, having a day set aside to remind us how much we have to be thankful for. But the secret I’ve discovered is, when you remember to show a little gratitude, every day can be Thanksgiving.

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen sister....Amen.