Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. -William Arthur Ward
As I pulled out of the driveway on Friday morning, I noticed a speck of gorgeous flower among the dead, dried out plants and grass in the front of our yard. A flitter of excitement and then a rush of gratitude washed over my body when I came to realize that it is truly spring. I felt grateful for the memory in that flower to bloom again this year and for the earth that sustains its life, like clockwork, each year. The astounding number of things that have to come together to arrive at the moment of bloom is mind boggling. A simple flower becomes miraculous when we reflect on all of the conditions necessary to sustain its survival.
It’s easy and it’s quite obvious to feel grateful for wonderful things in our lives like our health, family, friends, jobs, and even flowers. It is quite another thing to reflect on the challenges and difficulties in life and feel appreciation for them. Given time and distance, we can find gratitude in every situation, for it is a part of our growth in this life which propels us to a more intricate and complex existence.
Here are a few challenging life experiences, for which I have been able to locate the ‘flowers’:
I am grateful for the divorce of my parents because it taught me about courage, seeking out the best for my life, and independence.
I am grateful for the 13 moves we made by age 16 because it taught me about flexibility and gave me a special kind of empathy for my own students who experience frequent upheaval.
I am grateful for every failed friendship and relationship (for they were not failures at all), despite the pain of these losses, they taught me how to advocate and stand up for myself.
I am grateful for the trip to Paris which had trauma painted all over it from the moment we stepped off the plane, for even though we had to discover his passing, I now feel intense gratitude that I was able to see where my dad lived and experience being in his space there.
I am grateful for my fears, anxieties, struggles, and challenges.
The crap in life, the stuff that feels hard, painful, or traumatic, is the stuff that gives us dimension and creates room for empathy and understanding. Dealing with it, feeling it, as well as time, distance, and perspective must be part of the equation to transform our crap into flowers.
My life begins again when the sun comes up each morning. I can choose to find the flowers in the really hard stuff or I can choose to let my challenges bring me down and define me. I choose the former, and the flowers are beautiful!