Gratitude for the Mundane
Updated: Aug 23, 2021
During a pandemic, a major weather event, the loss of a loved one, etc., remembering to practice gratitude can be the very last thing on your list. Perhaps, it's not even on your list. That's especially true for people who live at the shadow's edge. But, it may just be the thing that saves you.
As I recently posted, we just endured a pretty major weather event in Texas. Many people lost basic services like electricity and clean water. Many of my friends suffered without power for days and are now dealing with busted pipes and water damage in their homes. Some people lost their homes to fires. Some people lost loved ones. Some people lost their lives. Given the terrible ongoing ravages of COVID, this feels like just one more beat-down by Life - spoken like a true melancholy soul, I guess. I wouldn't say I'm a full-blown pessimist. I'd like to think of myself as more of a realist. But, sometimes the realist's toe get dipped into the pessimist's water, and my perception becomes my reality. It all becomes so overwhelming.
As I reflect on the "snowpocalypse" of the past week, I'm forced to admit that I don't practice gratitude often enough. You see, we didn't lose power. We had enough food and water to sustain us. We didn't lose a loved one or pet to the bitter cold. Our home came out relatively unscathed. The closest I came to experiencing suffering was an abscessed tooth, for which I was slightly delayed in getting much needed antibiotics to ease the pain. I'm fine. My family is fine. I feel guilty. But, what I should be feeling is gratitude.
It's very difficult for those of us whose minds are wired a little differently to find the positive in things. But, it's so important that we strive to do so. One way is through the expression of gratitude, which has the power to take us to a positive place. I know that when I express gratitude, my soul feels lighter. Often, it's just the whisper of "Thank you, Lord," that lifts me out of the darkness. When I come across a beautiful sight on the hiking trail, witness an amazing sunset or sunrise, or am sitting around the campfire listening to the crickets, I often whisper a quiet "thank you" for it. I'm filled with gratitude for the gift. Sometimes, I can't help but cry as I'm so overwhelmed with emotion. However, I settle back into the "mundane" when I get back home. The point I often miss is that even the mundane is a gift for which I should be thankful.
There's a lot of suffering in the world. As much as we must do our part to minimize and ease each other's suffering, it's important for those of us who are easily drawn down the negative path to find a balance between productive empathy and unhealthy immersion. Dwelling on our own suffering can make us blind to our good circumstance. Awhile ago, I had two friends in my life that were polar opposites. One always had a very positive outlook, despite being faced with enormous difficulties in her life. The other, faced with difficulties as well, didn't always have such a rosy attitude. I found that when I was on the precipice of a dark period, the friend with whom I chose to spend my time determined whether I stepped into the light or into the darkness. I often got annoyed with the positive one, feeling like she discounted my suffering with her "Pollyanna" point of view. However, I could see my way out of the cloud with her constant and loving prodding. Conversely, the other friend was more than willing to wallow in the trenches with me - making my stay there more intense and prolonged. In her company, I often lost sight of all the things for which I had to be grateful.
This last year, I lost touch with a lot of the positive influences in my life due to COVID. So, I spent a fair amount of time in the darkness, refusing to see the many things for which I have to be grateful. Those "mundane" things, like waking to a roof over my head and a warm space; having clean water with which to brew my coffee and lights by which to see; feeling the loving nuzzles of my four-legged and two-legged companions, etc. Things that are easily taken for granted. This year got off to a rough start for most of us. However, I hope to do better at fostering a healthy perspective because I know that I have much for which to be grateful. I know that by expressing gratitude, I step into the Light. I become a light for others. There are so many others who need the light right now.
I pray that you're well. I pray that you're loved. I pray that you're nourished in body and soul. I pray that, if you're prone to lingering in the shadows, you're able to find that something or someone that will bring you into the Light. I pray that each day you're able to find at least one thing for which to be grateful, no matter how mundane it appears.
“Being grateful does not mean that everything is necessarily good. It just means that you can accept it as a gift.” - Roy T. Bennett