Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. – John Milton
For the last several years, I’ve made it a point to not make any New Year’s resolutions. My reasoning centers around two different ideas. One, everyday we wake in the morning we are intersecting with new. It bothers me that there is this belief that change can only occur when the calendar moves from one year to the next. Really, change can happen anytime you desire. Second, resolutions tend to lose meaning really quick. Surveys suggest that most people give up on their resolution by day ten.
Personally, a more meaningful way to start my year is to choose a word that I need to pursue with abandon. Last year my word was compassion. This year my word is gratitude.
Gratitude. How is it defined? It is the act of being thankful. I think pushing yourself toward gratitude allows you to concentrate on the present. This lesson came with difficulty. In 2007, this is what I remember. My father, frail from lung cancer, couldn’t breathe. With very obvious signs of distress we drove him to the hospital. He was admitted overnight for treatment. When did this happen? On December 31, 2007. New Year’s Eve. I remember Dick Clark counting down to 2008 on the small television and looking out the window. My companion that night was stale coffee in a styrofoam cup. There wasn’t a crowd or cake, but the beeps of monitors and orange jello. My attempts to converse with my father were futile. When you can’t breathe and you really realize that you are dying, there isn’t much incentive to express your feelings. I made a makeshift bed on the floor with a white sheet and travel pillow. As I heard my father struggle to breathe, my stomach sank. In that minute dread filled my heart. I remember thinking, “Is he going to make it to the next New Year celebration?” I wasn’t certain at that point.
How did gratitude eventually find its way to me? Every New Year’s eve, i think about my father, his struggles, and what I witnessed. Every New Year’s Eve I am filled with a sense of gratitude. Life is so incredibly hard. We are unprepared for what lays ahead. So why not invoke gratitude for all the wonder in our lives. I need to release imperfections and turn my attention to what is right and filled with wonder. When we feel not enough or slighted it is difficult to pay attention and define where gratitude exists.
Gratitude. I am rallying around it.