This is a brief life.
Our time here doesn’t last forever, although lately, I find myself acting as if it will. Sometimes, we get caught up in the drudgery of the day to day, the minor irritations and hassles that often feel like they will swallow us whole. Our growing to do lists take over our sleep, and download into our brains first thing in the morning, anxiety thudding in our chests. Somewhere in the midst of preoccupation and doing, we start to lose sight of the bigger picture “why” behind our choices.
For me, this is all too a common a scenario. And it falls under the category of taking life for granted. Taking another day for granted. Taking another breath for granted. Taking the health of my family and friends for granted. I start to place productivity and busy-ness over slowing down, pausing, paying attention mindfully, to the moments that weave the fabric of my day.
Often patients who struggle with a sudden diagnosis of a life limiting illness, or someone who has recently lost a family member, will come into direct contact with the fragile beauty of life. Life comes into clear focus. Priorities quickly sort themselves out. Decisions become simple. And yet the challenge, of course, is to live with our finger on the pulse of that fragility, without having to experience near death or death to do so.
I write this post as a reminder to myself to keep life small and simple, and to never lose sight of the beauty that can be found in the very moment that is unfolding. I try, in fact, to write a gratitude list in my journal at the end of every day…one of those simple “life hacks” that keeps me in touch with the joy that can be found in ordinary life, right here, right now.
Ironically, it is often the seeking of joy, which we imagine as something out there in the far off future (you know–once we have the perfect job, once we have the perfect spouse, once we have the perfect home, once we have the perfect children, once we have the perfect size) that robs us of the immense beauty that is right in front of our very eyes.
Today, I will share what I feel most grateful for here, at the end of this particular day (happens to be Wednesday evening at 9:42 as I write this), simply to share with you what feels good right now. Perhaps you might do the same, or have another way of touching the joy that exists in your current reality. I wonder what would happen if we talked about our gratitude more openly…whether we would manifest more of what we are thankful for, or perhaps start to see our world through a different lens.
It strikes me that life, almost always, will be a complex mix of good, bad, uplifting, stressful, easy, challenging. Our task is to be thankful and appreciate the positives that exist, while holding the reality of our problems as well. If we wait for a moment of all good in order to feel happy, we will likely be waiting a very long time.
Today a dear friend accompanied me all the way to LA for a doctor’s appointment. We laughed in the car driving there and back, talked about lots of different things, and enjoyed a beautiful lunch together. I am grateful for her friendship, and the time we spent together.
Going out to dinner (California Pizza Kitchen) with the kids and husband. Thankful for the financial stability that allows us to do that without feeling overly stressed. The kids were relaxed and we spent quality time together as a family.
My coffee this morning. The barista who made the coffee, and all of the forces of nature and people that were involved along the way. A moment of pause in the day, a morning ritual where I was able to slow down, breathe, and savor that coffee for a few minutes. I enjoyed seeing other friends and “regulars” as a way of touching base and feeling part of a community.
Another close friend organized a Diwali celebration for the fourth grade today at the kids’ school. Thankful that she and several others took the initiative to share our culture with the other children, and that they helped my daughter with her clothes and presentation since I couldn’t be there.
Getting up early this morning and taking a few minutes to write in my journal and get in a quick workout before a full day. I need moments of quiet and solitude, and loved being up alone in the dark.
An uninterrupted sleep last night. Lately my nights have been fragmented, with frequent awakenings. So glad to have a peaceful night’s rest.
My health, and another day. A full and complete blessing in and of itself. Same for my family and friends who shared another day too. A roof over my head. Food in the fridge. With that, we have enough, more than enough.
The opportunity to write. A laptop, a lovely journal, my favorite pen. The internet that will allow me to share this post with people all over the world. My online writing group and coach. The freedom to express myself. The readers who will take in my words on the other end. I can’t believe I get to do this.
My career. My career allows me to help in all sorts of meaningful ways, where I am never too far from my intention of serving others. I am grateful that patients trust me with their wellbeing and their health. Their trust in me also allows me to help support my family. My therapist who helps me viscerally understand and value what we do as psychiatrists, and provides the unconditional love and mirroring I need to feel sustainable.
My books. Every night I have a pile of books on my side table, a way to lose myself before it is time to sleep. I immerse myself in other worlds. I learn. I escape. Books are love and safety and knowledge, and for me, all that feels beautiful and important.
So today, and in the week ahead, I invite you to join me in noticing what we might be taking for granted. What does the light of gratitude illuminate for you? I would love to hear from you.