Right now on FB, my youngest sister has tagged the three of us other sisters to do the ‘gratitude challenge.’ In which for five days, you have to come up w/ three things a day for which you’re grateful.
Today, because FB is a large audience, I wanted to hit the basics fast: my husband, my sons & grandson, my ‘daughters’ — the DIL and nieces I have on lend from their wonderful mothers. But most days, what goes in to my gratitude journal is everyday life. I’m grateful for the woodpeckers on the seed & suet feeders, the hummers on theirs. I’m grateful for a day w/ cooler than normal temps. And there’s always when I cook, or if we go out to eat — I’m always grateful for good food!
Thinking about gratitude is a humbling exercise, if you do it both seriously & frequently. I’m grateful at night for soft sheets on a comfortable bed, in a safe house w/ air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. One cold winter night only a few years ago, a homeless man froze to death only 6 blocks from my house. Believe me, I thought about my comforts that entire week… And still do.
I’m grateful for a life that enabled me to write when I was laid off quickly from my job. That’s a privilege most people will never know, and I really get that.
I’m grateful, too, for (as the Mary Chapin Carpenter song goes), Pens that won’t run out of ink/ And cool quiet and time to think. Not to mention a Moleskine to put it all in.
Just looking at my daily life — my cute little car, my desk, my books & my pans to cook in & my cell phone & all these many many 1st world pleasures — I’m grateful.
I’m not saying this to be a total Pollyanna. I’m trying to remind us all that many of our everyday pleasures & privileges we take for granted. And that’s too bad, because often? Just everyday life is enough. Really.
We did it! Those of us who signed up for the half-marathon (and those who were insane enough to go 24 hours w/out sleep for the whole nine yards!) did it!
As one of the participants noted, what kind of crazy people would spend a day sweating over poetry w/ strangers? Weeelll… Poets would. And did.
Sometimes I need to remember that. I need to get back in touch w/what is so important to me — and/or so much fun — that I need nothing more than the joy & challenge of doing it. Because, well, life and chores and ‘responsibilities’ sneak up on me. And suddenly I’m on the phone all day with people I love, but who may be more needing than rewarding.
‘Reward’ is a funny concept. I spent TWELVE HOURS yesterday writing often fairly mediocre poetry. And ‘publishing’ it to group of strangers. Who will be able to TELL it’s mediocre. And the only reasons I can give you are this: I wanted to see if I could do it. And it was (all whining aside) hugely ‘rewarding.’
So I realise that would NOT be true for most folks I know. But it’s true for me, and the 100 or so other folks who challenged ourselves to write/ compose/ plan/ dream/ eat & sleep & breathe poetry for 12 or 24 hours.
See that badge uppa top of the page? That’s my ‘reward.’ Oh — and 12 poems. Each of which, because I kept my word to myself, is a winner. And that kind of love feeds my beginner’s heart all to pieces.
I’m doing a half-marathon tomorrow. Working HARD for hours. And now that I have you thinking what a sleek athlete I must be, I’ll confess: it’s a poetry half-marathon. 🙂
The Poetry Marathon 2014 (24 poem/ 24 hours) also has a half-marathon option. That would be me. Even at 18 I wasn’t much for all-nighters. 24 hours?? I’ll be quite happy to crank out half that many poems, in half that amount of waking time!
Every so often, we need to s-t-r-e-t-c-h ourselves in what we love. For me, that would be writing. Especially poetry. So I signed up for a half-marathon writing poetry. Fun idea, and harder than it sounds, as it usually takes me hours to do just one poem. Tomorrow, I’ll have one hour PER poem. So much for perfection.
You know that saying, right? Perfect is the enemy of good. It;s been attributed to sages as diverse as Confucius & Voltaire. And for me, it’s bang-on right. It was years ago that I realised (finally!) that when I try to make ANYTHING perfect, it usually doesn’t get done…
So tomorrow is my foray into Nike land: just do it. I’m recommending you try that, as well. Think of something you love, and just do it. Which probably sounds totally contradictory to ‘stretching,’ right?
Wrong. The hardest thing in the world is to confront your own learning curve. It’s also the only way to grow.
If you yourself aren’t on that list, welcome to adulthood. And how sad is THAT?
Buddhism talks alot about knowing your own self. There’s a meme going around FB lately, that quotes Bodhidharma, the Buddhist monk, on self-knowledge:
If you wish to see the Buddha,
You must look into your own inner-nature;
This nature is the Buddha himself.
If you have not seen your own nature,
What is the use of thinking of Buddha,
Or reciting sutras, or fasting, or keeping precepts?
By thinking of Buddha, your meritorious deed will bear fruit;
By reciting sutras, you may attain a bright intellect;
By keeping the precepts, you may be born into heavens;
By practicing charity, you may be rewarded abundantly;
But as to seeking Buddha, you are far away. ~ Bodhi-Dharma (d.533…?)
The reason is that if we know ourselves, and can find it in ourselves to accept with compassion our own natures, then we can love each other. We can act from and with love.
And as a friend of mine replied, when I posted this, Why does he have to hang out in such a scary place?
Because it’s soooo hard to love ourselves. I have many many friends & colleagues who seem utterly incapable of recognising the talents, skills, gifts, beauty I see in them. They struggle with deep feelings of inadequacy, even though they are some of the most productive (and empathetic) men & women I know. Since many — if not most — of them are teachers, this time of year is particularly devastating. It’s virtually impossible to give support, attention, & affirmation to others when you’re at ground zero yourself.
Today, take a moment to remember: you know yourself better than you know anyone. And as I told a dear friend recently? Look for what your friends see in you, and honour their perceptions. In other words, treat yourself as gently and kindly as you would a friend. I guarantee that if you make a habit of it, it will change your life.