I have been such a mess lately, and it's time for me to pull it together. I keep thinking about gratitude, or to be more specific, my lack of it. I'll have a really difficult problem (like insomnia), and I'll rage and wish for it to be different. I'll tell myself that if I could just solve this one problem, I could be OK. And then the problem gets solved, and I spend about 5 minutes being grateful before moving onto the next big problem. I guess it is the human condition to always think more of what we don't have, to focus on what is hard or painful, rather than to appreciate what we have. But I don't want to be trapped in this cycle of wanting wanting wanting, always trying to fill some unfillable hole. It's the whole reason I have spent so much time practicing meditation, because I want my life to be something more than running around catering to my desires and aversions, always feeling like happiness is somewhere just around the corner.
So this morning, I'm going to spend a few minutes thinking about things I am grateful for:
I am grateful that, most of the time, I can sleep again. Did I even tell you that I took an 8-week meditation course? And that it was fabulous? And that the chief result has been that most nights I can now lay down in bed next to my husband, without any sleeping pills, and fall asleep? I never in a million years dreamed the course would have such a tangible result, but it has. I'm kind of afraid to even write about it, for fear this gift will be snatched from me. But it feels like somehow the cycle of bedtime fear has been broken. I think the most important piece of advice I received from my teacher was just to recognize the fear that visited me every night and to stop resisting it. To just say hello to it, to welcome it in. This was such a powerful act. I can see now that most of the fear was really the fear of the fear. So when I welcomed it, rather than pushing it away, it vanished like the imaginary monster it was. But I want to make clear to the universe that I am not smug about this accomplishment. I know that I could go back to be a raging insomniac at any moment, and I hope that I can continue to welcome whatever comes.
I am grateful that I no longer work at the newspaper. My former employer is now in the middle of the second big round of cuts since the round in which I was laid off. (And if you remember, there were god-knows-how-many before I was laid off.) They are stuck in a downward spiral that seems to have no end, and I cannot imagine the misery and fear of continuing to work there, continuing to try and persuade yourself that this is OK. No matter how stressful or annoying I sometimes find my current job, it is 1,000 times better than still being stuck where I was a year and a half ago.
I am grateful that my daughter is alive and healthy. Last night we watched the movie "Rabbit Hole," which was very well done but so incredibly depressing. It was about a couple dealing with the death of their 4-year-old son, who ran out into the road chasing his dog. (Only a little close to home.) Their pain was so palpable, so inescapable, that it was awful to watch. But it made me remember to be grateful for my ordinary life. That it is a privilege to wake up before my body is ready and pack lunch and rush her off to school while Mia delays and fights me at every turn. Lately, Mia has been acting like a complete brat, refusing to go to sleep at night, looking for any excuse to sass me, having constant tantrums over nothing, constantly questioning me and demanding things. But despite it all, last night she told me she was practicing for her wedding, and she put a mesh laundry bag over her head and sashayed around wearing nothing but her "veil." And if that isn't enough to remind me that just having her here is is gift, I don't know what is.
I am grateful that my puppy is housetrained. I don't think that needs any further explanation.
I am grateful for these beautiful spring days, for growing plants that have not yet succumbed to the heat and my terrible gardening skills, for the little birds who have nested in my hanging plant, for the clarity of the light and the leaves on the trees and the length of the days.
Today, I am going to remember these things.