The weather across a large part of the USA is terrible this week. Flights are cancelled. Power is out. Huge snowfalls are predicted. People are forced to stay in their homes. Freezing temperatures are ruining RV travel. Things are a mess! So, how in the world do you find gratitude during times like these?
This bad weather is on top of the killing virus, lost jobs, schools closed, nearly total lockdowns in some cities, and general depression about life by some who find themselves unemployed, facing food insecurity, and a feeling of hopelessness. What might I possibly write this morning to give you hope, to cheer you up, to redirect your attention to joy, and happiness, and belief that we should be grateful? If we were all in the Wizard of OZ movie, I would say, “Just close your eyes. Click your slippers, and say, I believe…” But, this is not OZ. It is 2021. It is real life, and it sucks sometimes.
I started to think about the words in several old songs …. “You’ll never walk along…” “walk on, walk on with ? in your heart” and I am reminded that we have been here before. Being the brilliant people that were are, we have invented strategies to get out of the snow (salt and shovels), compasses to move through the storms, insurance for frozen pipes, generators to temporarily restore power, GPS systems, cell phones, navigators, and so forth. And sometimes, we are stopped from any movement for a day or so by regulators ordering us not to fly or not to go out and drive, and to stay home. In other words, we DO NOT have to solve adversity by ourselves. We have others to share the burden and solve the problems with us. Further, it has been my observation and experience that some of my best memories emerged during the worst of times. I remember I met my neighbors when we lost power in Alabama and I had a new born baby who had recent surgery at age 3 days. They shared their home with us and let us sleep by their fireplace for several days. We all shared the food from our freezers and cooked together and made it through the storm. If you have been watching social media or the news on TV about how the pandemic is bringing families closer together, it because they have been forced to stay home. The creativity of people during the pandemic has been amazing to watch as they create new games, figure how to do school and work at home all day for months, cook and eat at home and more.
Have you ever noticed that after the darkness the morning light is gorgeous as the sun rises? Have you smelled the air after a thunderstorm? Have you played in the snow, built snowmen, and/or had a snowball fight, or snow boarded or down hill skied on fresh powder? One might say that it is the storms that force us to see the new day. It is through storms in life with jobs, education, divorce, death, illness, or tragedy that our character is built. Further, as a metaphor one might argue that because it snowed and your pathway was covered, you have the opportunity to select another pathway!
There is not one pathway for life.
You get to the end through a variety of choices, as well as a multiple of circumstances which may not always be under your control.
So when you face a storm, how might you find gratitude?
- Take advantage of the extra time you have to look around, size up the situation, and re-evaluate/select your pathway.
- Seize the moment to find joy in, create memories with the people who are with you, or helping you, or to whom you may offer assistance.
- Remember how beautiful the instant the storm passed felt, i.e., the light of day, the smell, the hushed sound, the floating fog as it passes from the blowing winds, the beauty of the white blanket of snow, or the ice crystals on the tree branches outside your window, or the baskets of food delivered by not-for-profit local organizations, or the stimulus checks from the government, and more…
- Make note, give praise for the fact that circumstances forced you to pause your fast-paced busy life to recognize the absolute insight that you received and learned about yourself when faced with a terrible storm. You made it through didn’t you?
- Focus on what you can do for others during tough times. Remember the old “It is better to give, than to receive”.
Just think of all the songs that never would have been written without adversity in life.
Reflect upon those beautiful oil paintings of the ships at sea, waves lapping over the boats… and then remember…. the lighthouse!
This is #gratitudelite. See post on February 28, 2021 for definitions of categories of gratitude.