Prompt #2: What are you not grateful for? What sucks?
I’m not grateful when my alarm goes off in the morning, or when the cold wood floor chills my feet. I’m not grateful for the dirty car I drive to work, or the fact that the registration is up on the other car. I’m not grateful for violence, ignorance, negativity, or hate. I’m not grateful for rape, abuse, neglect, or the bomb that killed 22 people at a concert last night. I’m not grateful for the dark side of the world we live in, the evil hidden in the shadows. I’m not grateful that my nephew is back in the NICU, his second visit before he’s even two weeks old. I’m not grateful for trash day, because I didn’t get my cans out in time and the garage will continue to stink for another week. I’m not grateful that after I did my nails last night, I fudged one of them up turning the page of my book.
And then I go back and I read that list out loud, and I hear all that I am actually grateful for working inside of each sentence. I’m grateful I have somewhere to be in the morning, and a working alarm to get me up and going. I’m grateful for the beautiful hardwood floors in my bedroom, even when they chill my feet. I’m grateful that I get to use my fiance’s car while mine isn’t road-legal. I’m not grateful for violence, ignorance, hate, rape, abuse, neglect, or the bomb that killed 22 people last night, but I am grateful that my life hasn’t been corrupted or ruined by these things. I’m grateful for the light in my world, and for the darkness that shows us the difference. I’m grateful that my nephew is getting the best care possible, before he’s even two week old. I’m grateful I live in a neighborhood where we have trash service and so we don’t have to go to the dump. I’m grateful we have a garage to put our extra trash and odds and ends in for now. I’m grateful for the quiet and peace of last night, that gave me the time to do my nails and read my book as I drifted off to sleep.
Gratitude isn’t black and white. We aren’t just grateful, or ungrateful. Emotions and circumstances change, and our perspectives shift. All of my small frustrations can be re-framed and looked at from another point of view. The trouble is, we forget to re-frame, to pull back and look at the bigger picture. We focus instead on the narrow image, and see the faults and holes in everything. We see the things we don’t have and assume they are the answers to our frustrations. We over-accumulate stuff and junk, spending money frivolously on belongings that will not make us happier or more grateful.
Re-framed, my frustrations are rather lovely. May we find ways to spread compassion, love, peace and happiness more broadly.