Revisiting the Power of Gratitude

photo (31)I was driving home from work the other day when I saw a little boy, maybe nine or ten years old, lying in the street near my apartment – face down.

His scooter lay on the asphalt next to him, and it looked as if he may have been hit by a car. As I watched a neighbor hover her fingers over his shoulder, think twice, and recoil them, my stomach turned. EMTs tumbled out of an ambulance parked under a weeping willow, and I didn’t stop. I didn’t feel like there was anything I could do. Like with a crowd already gathering, stopping would hurt more than it could help. But the way this little boy’s head was tilted, the way his scooter was placed, made me think the worst. The clouds opened up, and I and the sky started crying together.

A few seconds prior, I found myself tired, driving home from a long day at work, and thinking too much. Like, “I’m 27, and where I am in life and where I thought I’d be are far apart.” Thoughts like, “I need to work harder.” And “Be more of a grown up.” And “I need to golf more,” and “Cook more,” and a long list of “mores,” none more important than “write” more.

Then I saw this little boy lying motionless in the street. I thought of his parents. I thought of his mother…lost in her grief. No one teaches you how to live a life, not really. And I thought of how amazing it was that this little being came into the world and learned all these different things without any instruction from anyone.

This year, I’ve been having a lot of fun, and I met someone – someone who surprised me with a vase he made of maple wood and test tubes filled with wildflowers he picked on SDSU’s campus (because he knows I like flowers).  In March, I surfed at sunset in Rosarito with guy friends. We suffered through a bowl of menudo together on a hot day. I laid under the shifting fronds of palm trees, smelling of chlorine and drinking mimosas with my girlfriends in Palm Springs. I showed my attorneys the rooftop pool at the hotel I’ll be staying at in Bangkok next month. Life is good.

But sometimes I forget this. The post-work grocery shopping grows bitter. Or we step out of the shower, like my friend told me recently, feeling sad and lonely for no particular reason. When Life is like this, we need reminders. Like my friend told me his – how when he stepped out of the shower, he found his daughter’s message: “I love you, Daddy,” finger-written a few days prior, and visible again on a fogging mirror. “How do you get any luckier than that?” he said.

For me, I try to remind myself that the little things aren’t actually little things. Like someone somewhere just wants a healthy heart that is beating, like the one in your chest. Healthy-ish lungs, like yours, that are filling with air. A face that’s not torn apart with scars from an underground bomb, or even a face that hasn’t been ravaged by wrinkles.

Being a great woman, to me, isn’t necessarily about making a ton of money, or knowing a lot of recipes. It’s not about being X number of pounds or having X number of kids. It’s not about how much love is in my life, although there may be something to that. To me, being a great woman is a lot about having a reverence for life. Knowing that far away from your worries and fears, geese are flying in V’s across fields washed with rain. Flowers are opening their petals to the sun. Someone somewhere is succumbing to sleep on their first day of life.

If you’re lucky, your story is going to go on for awhile yet. And I don’t know about you, but since I will be around for many more surf sessions and coffees and weddings, fingers crossed, I want to be around in a positive, strong way. And I think a big part of that is carrying a grateful heart. Happy Monday, I hope you guys have a great week.

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