Thanksgiving is tomorrow. As much as I’d like to feel grateful, I have to settle for cultivating an attitude of gratitude and hoping that the feelings will come later.
It is possible. For the last few weeks, it’s been difficult to find the words to write. I am in a dry spell. I force myself to maintain the discipline of writing because it is a good idea, not because the words flow out of me effortlessly. I’ve been consumed with self-doubt. I feel confused, lost, adrift on the ocean of life. I fear the coming storm and feel helpless against it.
This morning, between sleep and wakefulness, I realized that I’ve felt confused because I feel so many things at once. Worry tries to cancel out contentment. Sadness balances happiness. Confidence teeters on the other end of self-doubt. I struggle to contain them all.
This is an emotional land that I have traveled before but I never noticed the landscape like I do today. The mountains and valleys stand vividly etched against a cloudy sky. Their clarity is sharp, so sharp that the images cut into my mind. Mountains and valleys exists right alongside each other. They exist in me now.
At times, I reread my writing and find myself a mass of contradiction. What is true and genuine one day may be contradicted the next. As tempting as it is to criticize my swinging between viewpoints and extremes, what is true of me is also true of wider human experience. Each of us is the sum of our contradictions. This is where my gratitude finds its source and its purpose.
I am grateful for the fear I feel. It reminds me I am alive and have something worth protecting.
I am grateful for the sadness I feel. The deep places within have been carved by sadness. Sadness anchors me in the world and makes me appreciate the joy that is also part of my life. Joy requires the courage to let it in. I am grateful for this courage.
I am grateful for joy’s inconstancy. It keeps me hopeful, waiting eagerly for the something more I know is out there during the times of doubt and sadness.
I am grateful for the struggle. It reminds me that I’m still a work in progress. Life isn’t finished with me yet.
I am grateful that I am poor. It is taught me what real wealth is and has shown me that I am much stronger than I could have ever imagined.
I am grateful for the tears I shed, for the disappointments, for failure, it shows me that I feel and that I care. A life without caring is a very poor life. All disappointment and failure opens the door to the possibility of trying again.
I am grateful for the people in my life, the people I love. Flawed and imperfect they sometimes disappoint me in the same ways that I disappoint them. They show me what love is even when they show me what love is not. How can I not feel gratitude and love for others so much like myself. We try. We sometimes fail and we try again. Maybe this is what really defines love.
Most of all I am grateful for the power beyond, the source of all life, the source of my life. My life flows from this source as gift. I’m grateful for the task of honoring this gift and the gift of life and love in everyone I meet.
Life is complicated. I won’t always feel grateful but it won’t change the fact that underneath it all, I really am. I can feel heartbroken and joyful at once. I can feel gratitude and mourn my losses. I can feel deep peace and contentment and still worry about tomorrow. These feelings are not exclusive. They are part of human existence. They are part of me now and I am grateful.