25 November 2015
True abundance does exist; it flows from sufficiency, in an experience of the beauty and wholeness of what is. ~Lynne Twist
I desire to fully appreciate the goodness in my life, but sometimes there’s a catch. Fully acknowledging good fortune can create a sense of vulnerability. Loving deeply can raise a cold clammy specter of worry around loss. Feeling intensely happy can stir up fear that being ‘too’ happy is just asking for it. Just asking for the other shoe to drop.
Several weeks ago, I lingered in bed when my husband left early for an overnight trip. I didn’t get up to see him off, which is uncommon to the point of me not recalling ever doing this before. When I heard his tires crunch the driveway gravel as he drove away, I was suddenly seized by panic. How could I not have said goodbye? How could I have lazed in bed instead of getting up to wave, to wish him safe travel, to let my heart quietly extend out with him? This quick, a host of terrifying ‘what if’s’ roiled through me.
It’s true that, sometimes, the other shoe does drop. It’s true that a really wonderful day can be followed by an awful one. It’s true that bad things happen around the world and, right here too, to the people I know and love.
Acknowledging all this can stop me in my tracks. It can make me afraid that I don’t deserve so much. And that feeling so lucky will somehow trigger that other shoe to drop.
Still laying in bed that morning, staring up through the skylight as the sun began to lighten the sky, I noticed that the moisture on the glass had frozen hard. In the process, ice crystals had formed in exquisite organized patterns, like fern fronds, in cascades of delicate, graceful tendrils.
Nature helps balance me in this way.
Over and over, I stumble across this kind of organizing order in nature, an inclination towards beauty, a system that offers forth endless life in lavishly bold colors, textures, abilities. Again and again, I find a generosity and abundance.
Looking at that pattern in the frost, my anxiousness for my husband eased. Reminded of this cornucopia of earth’s processes, I cannot believe in a system of metes and bounds where happiness is weighed and measured so that a compensatory dose of grief can be doled out accordingly.
With this reminder, I know that there is nothing to gain from downplaying joy or good luck. And, in fact, everything to gain from building deep connections and caring passionately for family and friends, earth and sky, gratitude and joy.
I don’t want to opt out on this moment’s pleasure because of worry about what might happen tomorrow. I don’t want to throw joy under the bus of fear.
In fact, it is joy that I want to stop in my tracks for. To look for it. To let life’s wonder awe me. To notice and appreciate the extraordinary in both the unexpected and the ordinary moments. To soak up and savor the times that are chock-full of beauty or laughter or connection. To amplify these times with my attention and appreciation.
Life will proceed in its treacherous, marvelous, intricate, vigorous, unpredictable way.
Perhaps practicing gratitude involves trusting life, finding grace and beauty in the overall scheme. Beneath the ups and downs, finding deeper, steadier oscillations of life, like gratitude and satisfaction.
I believe love and joy and gratitude are more like muscles we develop than random occurrences that happen to us. With practice, those muscles strengthen and support my life. Celebrating things I value honors those things. With intention, I am reminding myself to stop in my tracks and wonder at the marvelous, and not be afraid to bodaciously embrace and nurture all the good fortune I can.