The Zen of Gratitude

I have my first yoga class in about half an hour and have been killing a bit of time reading blogs, and yes – the widow board – and the theme of being grateful came up again. Sally’s little girl just turned four and she recounted the day and her birth story on her blog. She mentioned that she felt grateful for the time she was able to parent with her late husband because she realized that that is not always the case for some – like me for instance. And it’s funny how in the midst of those milestones and anniversaries of this and that which litter the landscape of everyone’s life that those of us who have experienced great loss and tragedy find that we have reason to be grateful. It’s that double-edged thing that in the beginning we fight and cut ourselves on frequently because we don’t want to acknowledge the fact that for the vast majority of us, things could be so much worse.

And what’s worse than losing your life partner? Well, I mentioned an old friend recently in another blog entry whose three year old son was murdered by her own husband just about six years ago. That – is worse. And I don’t think many of us would have to look to far afield to find family, friends or acquaintances whose lives you wouldn’t swap with for any amount of earthly or beyond reward. It gets back to that thing grief does with our focus and perspective. Luring us inward to the point where our eyes are permanently crossed from the intense navel-gazing and we find something personal in the most innocuous of setbacks. Grief whispers seductively in our ears, trying to convince us that we are the focal point of all that is unfair but try as it may it can’t truly compete with what we know, and that is that we are not the most unfortunate and put upon. And eventually (though for some this takes a very long time – if it ever happens at all) we have to admit that death is not personal and we have not been chosen from all others because everyone is touched sooner or later.

One of my goals for this year is to try to find that grateful Zen place that so many people seem to connect with so much more easily than I do. I cannot go through to much more of my life being unable to shake off other people’s perceptions of me and of life and its many events. There is always a reason to be grateful and to look beyond and to find joy.

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