Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Exercising gratitude seems to be more akin to a skill than anything else. It is not something that comes naturally to me, though I wish I could claim the opposite. I would love to be a person who walks around in the Disney version of the world, singing with a bluebird on my shoulder, believing the best in myself and in my fellow humans, but unfortunately this just isn’t my innate reality. In fact, as I age, I find myself more inclined to pessimism, pragmatism, realism (whatever your flavor). I crave comfort, stability, and certainty and yet, the older I get, the more I also realize that this is a way of being which I will never be given. The world is a spectrum with no black or white, composed of varying stages of gray that muddle, nuance and jumble up the certainty I so desire.
The truth reveals itself to me over and over and over again: you are constantly changing, everything is movement, in flux, shifting, even those things you believed would last forever can become distant memories, but do not worry, you have and always will adapt. Sometimes this adaptation process is miserable. It can be incredibly myopic, panicked and painful to trudge through; there are times when I fail to use healthy coping skills, falling into co-dependent relationships, eating every cookie in my path, and isolating from those who bring me home to myself. And there are also times when I adapt with a little more grace. One tool that has helped me accept uncertainty with wonder instead of fear is gratitude: holding it widely and expressing it liberally and openly, is one of the ways I move into better space. During these moments, I realize that darkness and difficulty absolutely have their place in my life. Without these, I would never experience the joy, empowerment and pride that comes with triumphing over adversity. Without these, I would take for granted and fail to relish that which I find precious in my life. Sad songs wills always have their place in my world. Trouble and dissonance will as well. For with these hardships, opportunities for transformation abound. So today, I’m shouting from the blogosphere my gratitude because I deeply want this to be a time of great transformation for me personally and for society. Right now, I’m calling it -- we are about to become much more complex, amazing and beautiful versions of ourselves, even if it hurts. And I will get through the hurt by embracing what I am grateful for over and over and over again. So...
To the safety-pinners, thank you for showing me that I am valued even when I have received messages telling me that my life and my vote do not matter. To community activist, educators and leaders, who I aspire to be like and push me to do more, who say we can never rest, and who unceasingly remind me that I need to continually educate myself and learn from people who are impacted by whatever cause I happen to be fighting for: “because those closest to the problem are often closest to the solution,” thank you. To those friends who have become family, I can never thank you enough for how you’ve bounded us together with ties of unending and constant presence, through all the busy, over oceans, with songs and videos, laughter and commiseration, lifting me up and bringing me home to myself, reminding me of my beauty and my value when I start to doubt it; my only desire is that I can return all that you have given me. To those who voted differently from me but who have taken time to have meaningful conversations about their reasons, helping me to form a more complete picture of the range of viewpoints and ideas that exist beyond my own, thank you. And to the sun who teaches me a great lesson daily, you cause me to sweat pools of sweat that I didn’t even know I could while you dry my clothes that are out on the line, you burn my skin while I swim in the ocean that you heat, you seemingly disappear during your omnipresent cycle, but I’m always happy to see the light you bring upon your return; your capability to both sustain and destroy, amazes me -- my health and my humanity are tied up in learning how and when to bask in you and take shelter from you.
Inga N. Laurent
(Sunrise in Kingston)