Every year the emphasis on spirituality, well-being, inner happiness, fulfilment and contentment keeps looming larger. The number of articles and courses I come across daily on the above themes seem to be increasing by the day. And though there are a hundred factors that might comprise a life that feels is moving closer to attaining these goals, one particular word stands out to me more than the others, given present day scenario.
Gratitude. A little word. Yet loaded.
Time and technology wait for no one. There is so much information thrown in our direction daily, numerous people that we may connect with across the world, conversations we may take part in, ideas that we may contribute or follow. With all this we have our own lives, our careers, passions, interests, relationships, me-time and what not. And then we are told to be grateful for everything in our life.
So say this is how it goes. You wake up in the morning and spill the juice on your white shirt. You cannot seem to find your car / house keys. You get on the road and get caught in traffic due to unforeseen construction work on your daily route. You run into the building lest you punch in late and have the management look at you with disapproval. And then you realise that there’s a meeting at that very moment so you barely get to catch your breath, while you greet colleagues like a panting dog. Grateful, really?
And then talk of family conflicts and discord, screaming matches, unreasonable comments and requests, relationships marked with strife, the need to want to be loved and accepted met with annoyance and discomfort, each wanting to be in their comfort zone and not budge for another, friendships that seemed true changing with time, priorities and lack of common grounds we come to realise as we grow older. Do I give thanks for ever-changing attitudes and interactions?
Then there are times which signify falling into a deep abyss. We all know these times or hopefully not. Times of having been rejected, made to feel accepted only on condition, failing at a task perhaps, curled up on the floor giving way to gut wrenching sobs, wailing into the night only to wake up reminded of the despair, repetitive thoughts and unanswered questions. Must I at such a time feel gratitude for feeling this way and not allow myself to feel upset or hurt?
I realised gratitude doesn’t come easy. It takes every ounce of one’s being to search for something to feel thankful for. At times it might be staring you in the face and sometimes you must look deeper. The full force of this word hit me a few weeks ago.
Writing has always been my security blanket so to speak. It gave me an outlet for my thoughts and reinforced my belief in having a purpose in life. And then comes a time when one is desperately looking for a reason to hold on when everything seems to be losing its grip. When the rock bottom scenario seems to be taking on more strength after having tried to defeat one’s belief in unconditional love and faith. With this wavering sense of self I did the only thing I knew – write. But I found myself unable to conjure up words that had little to do with pain and longing. And I wasn’t willing yet to put my tears onto paper. So I dusted off articles / blog posts I had written but never published. And then something magical happened. I found myself re-reading my words and being filled with a need to share these. Somehow I felt that just as I needed a life raft to save from sinking, there was someone out there who might need the same. And so I clicked ‘publish’.
What happened next was incredible. I started receiving mails and words of appreciation not just from people I knew but those across the globe. Something I put out there in an attempt to save myself came around in the most unexpected way. I came to realise that it was gratitude that saved me. I was grateful to a higher power for giving me the ability to express myself through the written word. And what I got in return made me feel so appreciated and valued.
I lost my creative space somewhere along the way but am grateful to those who have diligently read every word I have written. It helped open the door to spaces in my mind which I had somehow forgotten. For most creative pursuits we do not create for an audience or validation. It is more for the creator itself. But at times spaces that exist outside of one’s being remind of love that is within.
Gratitude comes into each day in some form. From having a roof above my head, family and a space to call my own, to a car that helps me get from one place to the next, more so now to escape the scorching heat!, my health and food that is way more than two meals a day and just the oxygen in my lungs that allows me to wake up each day – even days I don’t feel like getting out of bed, exhausted with my emotions on over drive and times when tears well up the moment I open my eyes. Yet I am grateful.
We may never attain that dream house or perfect situation or have someone love us the way we so deeply desire, but we can be grateful. Grateful to be alive, to have some sense of a purpose. No matter how hollow we feel or our eyes seem vacant, feel gratitude. As I do now, of having escaped my thoughts even if for a few hours to pen these words. I choose to feel thankful. I choose life every day. No matter how bleak it may seem or make me feel like giving up. I know this to be true – as long as I continue to feel grateful for even the cool grass I walk on a hot summer night, I will be okay. I am grateful to be alive.