The idea about this blog post originated around the time of Thanksgiving in late November. At the time the internet space was saturated with materials on gratitude, compassion, kindness and gratefulness.
I loved the talks and articles that were coming up all over the media and I enjoyed being reminded of those basic values and eternal truths.
In Ireland we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. We get the vibe but we don’t get to organise get-togethers. Which could be good and bad. I know that for some getting together with the family could be a tricky experience.
In my own case – my family of origin isn’t around. My father lives in the UK, not very far but we don’t see each other very often. And he’s the only one left from my family of origin. My older sister died earlier this year. My mum also passed away 5 years ago. The more extended family members are mostly back in Bulgaria, my home country. I also have a cousin in the USA.
My family has stretched across the directions of the world and we barely get to see each other. Also getting together for me brings up a lot of the pain we went through during the last few years when my mum and sister were sick. Sometimes I’m grateful not to have too many family get-togethers because they only remind me of the loss of family.
But, thank God, I have my partner and my son. Which I am grateful for more than anything.
One of the articles I read around that time, discussed two types of gratitude: the one that is elusive and the one that lasts. In the author’s own words:
In the years since my back gave out, I’ve wondered, what good is gratitude if the thing you’re grateful for can be obliterated by a tiny tear in your lower back? What good is gratitude if it can be blown away like dust in the wind? What good is gratitude if it depends upon chance and privilege?
Instead, we need a type of gratitude that lasts through:
Because, frankly, I need a gratitude that’s a little more resilient than that. Last time my back gave out, but what if next time it’s my mind that gives out? Or my business? Or my words? Or one of my kids’ beating hearts? I don’t want to cultivate the kind of gratitude that arises from such passing things. I want to cultivate the other kind of gratitude.
The kind that can see me through them.
Strangely enough, just the night before I read this post, I had a similar thought in my mind. In fact, I have this thought every night I go to bed for a while now.
Every night before I go to sleep I say a short prayer. Sometimes I’m so tired I can only think of “Thank you”. Sometimes I continue with thanking for a few things. One of the first things that come up are, Thank you for my child and for my partner. I am thinking, This is all I have and I don’t need or want anything else.
But then fear grabs me and starts whispering in the dark, Do you really think you have that? And then I realise that, no, I don’t have it; yes, anything could happen to these two most precious to me people. And I am afraid, I fear losing them. I went through so much pain losing family members that I’m desperately praying in the dark, Please don’t take any more people away from me. If you have to take someone, take me this time. I don’t think I can survive losing another person…
I can go on like that for a while but I recognise that voice of fear whispering in my ear, the voice of my ego being scared. I try to console my ego and my self. I say that whatever happens, or has happened, it is for a reason. It is what our souls have chosen to experience during our human incarnations. It is all for a purpose bigger than our current lives. And yes, sometimes it helps, and no, it sometimes doesn’t.
Then the only thing I can do is run away from fear land and go to sleep.
I realise that this type of gratitude is fleeting. The only thing we know with certainty is that we don’t know what’s going to happen next, what life has in storage for us.
Sometimes I skip this type of gratitude and try be thankful for the things that we truly have at this moment – being here right now, taking a breath, opening and closing my eyes this exact moment, stroking my son’s head, feeling my partner’s body warmth.
With the year’s approaching end I think it’s important to remind ourselves what we are grateful for. I am grateful for:
The list could be really long but the point is we can only be truly grateful for the present moment and what we have at this exact time. The next moment, even the next breath, is unknown, is hypothetical, is beyond our presence.
What are you grateful for? Do you have to remind yourself often or do you live with that feeling? Do you think gratitude can be fleeting? I’d love to hear your thoughts, x0