Forgive me but I feel another rambling post coming on.
The words grateful, gratitude and thankfulness have been coming up lately with good reason. Even today, five days after Thanksgiving, my yoga teacher talked about being grateful, content and happy as if all of those things are easily within our reach if we just breathe right, think good thoughts and do yoga poses. Okay, this is a bit of simplification and doesn’t really do her justice, she is an awesome teacher, but occasionally I wonder if she has had to deal with brain fog or any of the really horrible things that can happen to a person. I’m talking about life changing events, ones that are beyond our control, that happen before we know it and catch us back-pedaling in order to even make sense of them, much less learn how to survive them. I’m talking about a mental illness that comes on suddenly and changes a person’s perspective of how the world works. Or a call to the principal’s office to be told that your mother is in the hospital. Or learning that your stepson has just taken his own life. Or seeing an earthquake (or any other natural disaster) devastate your home. Or being told by your husband that he no longer loves you and doesn’t want to come home…OVER THE PHONE. Or being left by your mother to fend for yourself at the age of 15. (okay, I admit, that last one I got from an episode of “Major Crimes”.) The rest of these have happened to me or to friends of mine and I am blown away by how quickly life can all of a sudden take a turn down an unmarked road without our even being aware that the road was there.
When it happens to you, you enter a new realm, one of shock, anger, sadness, confusion, ignorance, crisis and the general miasma of the not-so-pretty side of life. Life (or even someone close to you) has pulled you into a tunnel without your permission. Gratitude is hidden in the murkiness that surrounds us, as we try to make sense of what just happened. Contentment is an abstract, unreachable concept.
I have been there, and chances are that I will be there again…that is life. What I’ve found is that it is easy to be grateful when things have evened out, when we have some control over our lives, when health and happiness and a world of plenty abound. It is not so easy when you’ve been kicked down, when you find yourself on the wrong side of a chick flick and have run out of Kleenex.
Right now…yes, I’m grateful. But I am also aware that my life will not stay the same and there will come a time that I won’t be so grateful. Which in its own weird way makes me even more grateful. While I’m not particularly religious, I do believe that I have to trust that whatever happens to me is supposed to happen, that I will grow from it and get stronger and, yes, more content and happy. And I have to say that my contentment now is boatloads more than even 5 years ago. Actually, I’ll take that back, I may have been this content, but I didn’t know how fragile it was. I enjoy it more now than I did then. Now I fall back into it, like it is a comfortable armchair. And I gladly hold out a hand to anyone who is in a murky tunnel and let them know it’s not forever…just like others did the same for me a few years ago. Perhaps contentment comes and goes, but so can heartache.
So after this deep dark post, I leave you with some pictures of beauty that I captured with my iPhone this week…pictures that leave me contented and, yes, grateful. (cuteness alert…there are more pictures of dogs…nothing like a dog to make you smile and feel content.)