Gratitude – In Joy and In Pain
A friend sent me this link on Thanksgiving Day to a joyful, uplifting invocation to gratitude from people from all over the world. I knew I would have to post it as a belated Thanksgiving greeting to readers of this newsletter. Try it! It’s brief in time but so deep in heartfulness and joy.
Then, the morning I was creating this post, (we do schedule ahead) I tripped in my garden, fell on my left shoulder, the pain so great I assumed I tore my rotator cuff and knew I had to get to the ER.
The friend I was with at that moment, after assessing I was okay except that I couldn’t move my shoulder in any direction without wincing pain, lifted me up bodily so I could stand, and walk, and gather my things, and he drove me in my car to the hospital (masked, me distanced in the back seat.)
Once we started down my street, I began my litany of gratitudes. My friend was right there, helping me come out of the shock and could even lift me off the ground to standing. I injured my left shoulder, I could still write, in long-hand, on the computer, use my phone. Probably even drive again. I had three client cancellations that day, which on another day would have been a disappointment, but this day meant I could “afford” the time to wait in the ER.
As we approached the hospital, I remembered hiking a trail with my friend Marianne. She had fallen near the beginning of the trail, heard something “crack” as she fell down, knew she had broken something, lain down on the trail to stabilize, and said, “I need to shift my attitude!” and began her gratitude practice: that I was with her; that her husband was home to pick her up and take her to the ER, etc.
I was well into my own gratitude practice as we approached the hospital. Grateful that I had had the forethought to bring along Barack Obama’s new book to read; 700 pages would carry me through however long the wait was in the ER. (Three hours; 97 pages even with interruptions.) Grateful for the competence, efficiency, kindness of the staff. Yes, I had fractured a bone in my shoulder and would be in a sling for 6-8 weeks, and on painkillers for as long as it took, but I was safe, well-cared for, healthy and strong for the recovery.
Gratitude for the larger systemic picture, too. That I’ve belonged to my health care provider for 40+ years; my co-pay was $90. That my professional work these days is entirely online from home, such a blessing since I can’t drive for now. That I could order groceries online that could be delivered by my local family owned grocery store. That I had finished two weeks’ worth of laundry that morning; if I was to sleep in the same clothes for a few days because of the pain in my shoulder, at least they would be clean clothes.
Like I’m on alternating Tylenol and ibuprofen to “stay ahead of the pain,” I’m grateful for a practice like gratitude to stay ahead of any spiral down into misery.
I teach all the time, “Bad thing happen to good people.” I also teach, “How you respond to the issue…is the issue.” And that the Chinese pictograph character for crises is two characters, danger and opportunity. Trying to walk my talk; grateful for the privilege.
And I watched the video again. Grateful for the joy.