So, whilst watching “The Voice”… the only singing show I watch anymore, I thought about the different people who will be losing, because there are a whole lot of people with talent in the world who don’t win the competition. And I started thinking about what it means to lose. What difference does it make, as so very often it is the people who lose who end up persevering and rising to the top once the competition is over. So then I jumped to the things that I’ve lost in my life.
What difference does it make for us to lose? It seems like a bad thing. And at the time it’s devastating. But, like many things in life, the devastation (the hurt, or fear, or anger) has the capacity, if utilized to drive us. To push us forward. There are certain things in life that we can all taste. Things that are so close. They are tangibly elusive, and we are continuously driven keep working towards them. They are the things that make us feel alive. When we ignore them and suppress them or give in to the devastation, we find that everything gets harder. We become unsure of any goal. It’s confusing. But when we let those losses move us forward, and fill us with strength, desire, perseverance, we become filled with the things we need to survive and achieve. These are some of the most important tools any person can have if they are to ever truly succeed in achieving their goals. And a contest may be one goal, but it only lasts one night. The person we become, the person we choose to be lasts a lifetime and beyond. And THAT is why losing sometimes is something to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!
This is an old post, and actually from my book, but it is perfect for today because it begins to embody what thanksgiving is supposed to be about. Truly being grateful for those things that we have, even the most minute details. The walls of the homes, the streetlights that light our way home at night, the sheets, the bed, the food, the trees, the people, the love, and the potential that exists within all of us. It’s all there, it’s all real, it all matters. So here’s the post:
One day when I was driving home with my son in the back of my car, he started to cry. I tried music. I tried talking to him. I tried getting out and giving him juice and snacks. I checked to make sure he didn’t need anything else. I tried everything I knew to convince him that it was going to be okay. I gave him everything he could need. As he continued crying we began again with just a few more blocks to our house. I remember sitting at the stop sign and saying to him, “If you could only see, my love, we’re just a few minutes from being there. Just a few more minutes. It’s almost over. You don’t have to worry. Everything will be just as you want it to be soon. ”
In that moment I began to realize just how similar that sweet little baby and I were. I thought to myself:
How many times do I sit there wondering, crying, ‘God why isn’t this happening yet? Why can’t I see what’s going on? Why isn’t it the way I want it to be? What can I do to make things different? I can’t use what I have, I don’t even want this stuff I’ve got. I want something different, something better. Why can’t you just give me what I really want? Why is it like this? Why can’t I see the way out?’ and all the while God is sitting there saying, ‘It’s okay. I’ve given you everything you can possibly need. It’s all right there. Everything is waiting for you to arrive. You’re so close. You don’t have to cry. You don’t have to worry. I promise it’s all right there. If you could only just believe me, it would all be okay. ’”
I spent so much time worrying about why things weren’t right, that I failed to understand everything that was right with where I was. I didn’t appreciate it. I wasn’t thankful for it. I just threw it aside thinking I didn’t really need it. What’s the use in all of this stuff? I let myself get to a point where I couldn’t see past the hurt, the worry, the fear. It consumed me. And so it consumed everything I did for the most part, as well.
When we got home that day, I turned on Oprah, and there was a woman who had survived the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. As I watched, she talked about all of the things she goes through each day just to get up and going. She had been burned over a large portion of her body. She could no longer hold her children. Up until recently, she couldn’t even open the peanut butter jar to make a sandwich for her children’s lunch. While watching, I realized all of the things that I had to be thankful for.
I can hold my son. I can touch his face. I can hug him. I can pick him up. I can see him smile. I can hear his laughter. I can play with him. I can drive him anywhere he needs to go. I can feel him breathe. I can run and jump with him. I can teach him to play sports. I have so many things to be thankful for, especially when it comes to him. He and my nephews make me smile every day. They fill my heart with joy every day. They let me love them every day, and I feel so honored to be able to do so. And I am so thankful to have the chance, all day every day to try again.
Even when I get things wrong, I have learned to be thankful that I have the chance to try again. And one of the ways I try to show my gratitude is by trying to make the right choice after I’ve made the wrong one. If it is something that can be undone, then I try to undo it. If the chance has passed, then I make sure to try not to make the same mistake again. With gratitude comes the possibility for change. If we recognize that it is possible for us at any moment to show that we are thankful, somehow, some way, we can seize the opportunity instead of allowing it to pass us by.
Jack fell asleep unusually early tonight, and somehow I ended up watching Toy Story 3 alone, and not changing the channel. You can call me a sap, but everyone I know cried during the movie, so I’m comfortable with it. I normally don’t watch it, because it does make me sad. And today was a cleaning day so we were already cleaning up rooms and clearing out old toys and putting aside a few to save, so the movie came right on time.
Anyway, I was watching tonight, you know, 10 minutes ago at the end, and I started thinking about how hard it is to let go of those things that have meant so much to us. Whether it’s a toy or a trinket or something big, like a friendship or a relationship. We like to be connecting to things that make us feel happy. Things that give us a sense of knowing. We know who we are when we play with those toys… or with Jack I know who he was when I look at some of his old toys or outfits from the past few years. It serves as a reminder of something familiar. Something strong. Those things embody the things that we want to continue in our lives. And I think when I look back over today and I think of the toys I had when I was younger, I can remember my Cabbage Patch doll (I had a preemie newborn one, she had a crib and at Christmas time I would put her by the fireplace we used to have in my old house.) and I remember how happy I was. There was a lot of hopefulness for what would come. Even though there were lots of issues, the future seemed to hold a lot of possibility and that time when I played and entered into my own little world it was even better. I had an escape and I had a connection. And I think that’s what we hold onto. Those things that helped us escape or those things that hold the possibility for a future that we want. The things we were able to connect with in a way that gave us help and hope.
But the help and hope are always inside of us. And those things, even though they hold special memories are just things. Even when those things are friendships or relationships. Sometimes we really do just have to let them go and let them move on to a place where they can be more beneficial. Whether it’s donating toys or clothes or letting go of someone in our life, we have to let those things evolve. Our roles in one another’s lives grow and change. And even though it can be sad, it’s good to let go. It’s the only way we can move forward. And moving forward is something to be thankful for. 🙂
Today I’m thankful for this beautiful day. It’s truly stunning outside, even if it’s a little chilly for my taste. But I woke up really excited today to have the chance to wake up. I feel good and purposeful, which isn’t always the case, but is the way I try to make it. I like the thankfulness exercise, because it really is good to remember to be thankful for even the tiniest of things we have. And it creates a foundation of gratitude instead of a foundation of “I need.” And we all have so many things we do need to do every day and in our futures that the need can get to be overwhelming. And need is something that easily becomes skewed and lost in our quest to attend to need. It has a way of making us feel helpless while gratitude has a way of making us feel helpful. It reminds us that we have things, even tiny things that allow us the chance to move forward. We have the chance to grow and create and be who we are, and we are all someone with something to offer. Every day, even if we aren’t where we want to be, we have something to offer that can make both our day and someone else’s day a little bit brighter and bring us closer to who and where we want to be.
As a side note, I’m again thankful (but a little scared by) technology. Did you guys see this? http://phys.org/news/2012-11-invisibility-cloak.html This is a link to an article talking about how Duke University has created and “invisibility cloak.” You know, like in Harry Potter. Where they were able to effectively make a cylinder invisible by bending light around an object and doing, you know, other things that required mathematical formulas for mirroring light waves and working out copper’s reflective characteristics that we all hang out and do on a daily basis, so obviously I don’t need to explain any further. Which is good since I don’t really understand any of it. BUT this is really cool, and kind of scary. They made it disappear in a way that produced no reflected light, whereas previously done cloaks were “see through” but you could tell there was an object that you were “seeing through” because of the reflective properties of the cloak set up. Kind of like bubbles, I think? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what they said. Anyhow, you guys should read the article, because it kind of blows my mind that we can make things appear invisible through the use of technology and considering how all of that works what if you could make a whole country invisible? Or what if there are parts of the universe that are really close to Earth that are invisible and we just don’t know it? What if a previous group of Earth’s inhabitants figured this out and they walk around with us, but sometimes we see glimpses of their reflections but it’s too brief to know that’s what it is?? Or you know, what if it’s nothing. Points for the day: This cloak is cool (and not cloak like in the way I thought it would be) check it out. And being thankful is good. And buy my book 🙂
I think back in May I might have posted an excerpt on being thankful from my book. I can’t remember if it included what I’m going to talk about today, so I’m going to say it again. Partly because I’m lazy and don’t want to look back through all of those, but mostly because it’s something that’s important and that I want to share again if I’ve already done so. A few years back when I was watching Oprah there was a show on about a woman who had been burned. She had been so severely burned that she couldn’t hold her child. She couldn’t open a jar of peanut butter. She no longer had use of the faculties most of us have on any given day. She wore compression stockings all over her body to keep her blood flowing and keep clots from forming. And when I saw this show I remember thinking how thankful I was to have my health. I had use of all of my muscles. My fingers and toes, my feet and hands, legs and arms. My body functions as it’s supposed to. I can sit and stand without issue. I can run and jump. I can bend over. I can paint my walls. I can clean my floors. I can pick up my child when he cries. I can hold him on my heart whenever he’s scared. I can push him on the swings. I can slide down the slide with him.
Every day I wake up I try to remember to be thankful that I can. I am able. And it is my responsibility to work to ensure that I remain able. And to not take for granted the little things that I do have, that are significant things when removed. Like the ability to hold hands with my son as we go for a walk. To have the stamina to play with him outside, even if it’s not as much as he’d like (I swear I’m going to start using him as a personal trainer for people. He’s quite the motivator for staying moving!). I have hands to wash dishes. I have eyes to see the road. There is a world I get to experience with relative ease because I am healthy. And I am incredibly thankful for that. And I say prayers of healing and hope because there are many of us who do not have the same luxury.