This is not to say that all reminders to be humble and grateful should be significant; in fact, I would argue the latter -- that our ability to find and create happiness on a daily basis is dependent upon our ability to give thanks for small pleasures. But I also don't want to look back at this project and think, "Wow, I had three months at the end to meaningfully process and reflect on the difficult but beautiful and insightful nine months prior, and instead of doing that I wrote, 'Got my laundry finished!'"
Likewise, I think it's important to understand that happiness doesn't equate an absence of difficulty; again, I personally believe that it must be possible in spite of those difficulties, but that it is only possible if we as individuals have to make peace with and work through the difficulties in order to arrive at joy and happiness. But, again, I don't want to look back at this project and think, "For a project about gratitude and humility I sure was self-centered and negative!"
In light of those competing desires, it is with great pleasure that I bring you good news of great joy: more everyday reasons to take stock and give thanks, but which have a lot to teach me in the end:
#431: The beautiful Washington Post Magazine article entitled, "The Reunion," about the author's journey back to Tanzania after 15 years. This is a reminder that the fruits of our hard work are often delayed and/or hidden from our eyes.
#432: Merris Doud's beautiful story about grief and healing as part of Laura Munson's "Breaking Point" series. It really touched me. The best line, by far, was this: "Not then, but now I see that in that moment, God revealed to me that there was still joy in my world – not joy as pure as before, for it would always be filtered through the pain of losing [my daughter], but it was there, nonetheless." Yes, it is. Even when we're sure it isn't.
#433: Laura Munson's header to today's "Breaking Point" entry, wherein she discusses finding gratitude in the small, everyday things that mean so much to me. The best part of it, in my opinion: "We are rounding the bend toward Spring. Each year at this time, I remember what gratitude is…in tiny things like being able to see the driveway again. The call of the red-winged blackbird in the marsh behind my house that tells me we’re still worth returning to. Open windows that blow out my Winter dormancy and wake me up with a wind that feels balmy, even at 45 degrees. Each year at this time, I feel myself losing that Winter brace against the cold. And I re-learn that gratitude can’t be felt without a willingness to receive. As we finish this Winter, I invite us all to actively receive the newness and hope of Spring."
#434: Finally celebrating my birthday with Mr. Wonderful this weekend. He was sick, and then I was sick, so we were forced to hope for delayed gratification. Every single minute of that dinner was worth it, and I remain eternally grateful that I am in love with such an amazing man. But not because we have fancy, special occasion dinners. Because we also share TV dinners and enjoy them almost as much as the other.
#435: A day of absolutely no traffic when my alarm didn't go off. I complain about traffic a lot, so I need to take notice when things actually work on my favor. On a day when it really and truly matters.
#436: Meeting fun new 'friends' last week, when being friendly with acquaintances generally isn't my thing. What a nice surprise it was!
#437: Being asked to coordinate our monthly dinner to the homeless. Presumably because the people in charge know that I'm dependable and passionate about it. Can't really ask for more than that.
#438: A mid-week visit from my best friend, who will be in town for business. Because we live a full nine-hours'-drive apart, this is a real gift to be cherished.
And that is it. For now. But it's important to share those, I think, because it's important for me to stop, take notice and give thanks on these occasions. I hope you understand the method to my madness...