Most of this week, I have been thinking about my recent blog about the distinction between gratitude and appreciation.
“Melody Beattie said, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Gratitude is the base from which we can gain a greater appreciation of life and its offerings.
Appreciation involves awareness and mindfulness. Our ability to appreciate all of what life is revealing to us is dependent on our being present, aware, and actively reflecting on why we are grateful for what we are. It is through our awareness that our appreciation of that which we are grateful grows and blossoms.”
What have I been grateful for and what is it about those things, which provides be with a greater appreciation of life and its offerings. What I wrote in my gratitude journal on December 7, 2012 was
“I am grateful for all the things I have been spared in my life. I am grateful for the local libraries whose staff put things on hold for me until Zoe can get there to pick them up. I am grateful for friends who are learning how to take care of themselves. I am grateful for the fresh salad we had for dinner last night. I am grateful for new friends and old ones.”
When I wrote this it dawned on me that so often I give thanks for that which I have, however, after speaking to a few people I was reminded of how many things I have not had to experience in my life. I have never been homeless. I have never been shot. I have never had a family member shot. I have never lived in abject poverty. I have never had my life turned upside down by a hurricane. As I began to think about all these things, I began to appreciate how amazingly blessed my life has been and gained a greater appreciation of that which I have.
Being unable to drive or run errands for myself at this point in my life, I am dependent on Zoe to do this for me. When the local library offers to hold a DVD for three days, it is such a blessing. It means that Zoe does not have to go look for it and it saves her time and energy, especially when her knees are aching, to not have to look for it. This little thing, this random act of kindness, even if it is a library policy, reminds me that we can still treat each other kindly and provide quality customer service. I hold on to the feeling from this random act of kindness and pray that at some point in the day or near future I can assist someone else in experiencing that feeling.
As I watch friends and family develop the skills to take better emotional and spiritual care of themselves, I find my heart overflowing with joy. It is like watching a flower bloom. I have one friend in particular who has had an amazingly challenging life. Lately, she has begun to learn how to affirm herself and find a strength within herself I am not sure she ever knew existed. Over the course of our relationship, I have watched as she, like a seedling, slowly broke through the dirt and then began to grow, develop buds, and begin to blossom. Watching her birth herself, as she is, is such a humbling experience.
As I sat down to eat dinner with Zoe, I began to really appreciate the spring mix, which was in our salad, the diversity of shapes, colors, textures, taste in each of those leaves. The sweetness of the tomatoes and the difference I was appreciating without the seeds in them. The combination of flavors from the cilantro, limejuice, diced jalapenos, and diced green onions added these Mexican flavors to our salad and made me appreciate the exposure I have to other cuisines and culinary points of view.
Finally, as I began to reflect on our friends, some who had been in our life for years and others for a few months, I gained an appreciation for how the universe brings people into our lives who need to be in our lives for a purpose or removes them because they have served their purpose. It also made me appreciate the friends who have known and loved me for decades because as a friend of mine says, it takes a long time to grow an old friend.