And so, three years of being grateful draw to a close. It was back in 2012 when the inimitable Biddy McD put me on to this grateful kick with her daily photo posts capturing her gratefulness. I thought it a lovely way to stay mindful of all the good that happens to me rather than get bogged down in what ifs, whys, and wherefores. While I enjoy the occasional wallow in self-pity, they’ve been few and far between in the last few years and this I attribute to bring consciously grateful for the smallest, most insignificant things in life.
It need only be something as simple as public transport cooperating with me. And it happens seldom enough to make it notable 🙂 There’s a lovely sense of synchronicity if I venture out in Budapest and each time I get to a tram stop, a metro station, or a bus or trolley stop, they arrive, unbidden. And when it happens a few times in succession in a given day, I feel like the gods are watching over me and paying special attention. And that day becomes special.
It might be something as banal as a change in schedule that, while irritating at the time, has a domino effect and frees up the day to let better things happen. It could be a phone call, an email, a text message from someone I haven’t heard from in a while or any of the same from someone I hear from every day. I’ve had my world turned upside down by two people telling me how proud they were of me and I’ve been ever so grateful for silence.
There’s nothing to overthink. No matter how bad life is, there’s always something to be grateful for. It is or isn’t raining. The postman brought or didn’t bring a letter. The alarm did or didn’t go off on time. It’s a matter of choice to be thankful.
I have some fascinating friends: one I lost this year, another continues to be there for me in his own quiet way, others open new windows for me and offer me a different perspective on the world. I get to travel as often as I can make it happen and am fortunate enough to have friends around the world who always make me welcome. I might only see them every few years, but it always feels as if the time in between could have been measured in days rather than decades.
Gratitude is somewhat divisive. Stalin reckoned it was a sickness suffered by dogs. The great Dorothy Parker thought it the meanest and most snivelling attribute in the world. But, for my money, it was Chesterton who captured its essence: When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. And yet Nietzsche also has a word of caution: There are slavish souls who carry their appreciate for favors done them so far that they strangle themselves with the rope of gratitude.
There’s a balance to be found, and three years in, I think I’ve finally got the hang of it. Thank you for letting me practice on you.