Don’t ever think for a moment that I believe it’s easy every day to feel grateful. Some days I think, I just can’t stand all this– too much work, too much nastiness, too many people looking out for their own damn ass and hiding their true greedy intentions under psuedo caring, too many times the bad guys win, too much unrelenting injustice. I feel like I am in a continual whirlwind– it’s hard enough holding on to my hat much less be grateful!
I think it’s hard to be grateful– because I am serious in trying not to simply “lip service” to the whole gratitude concept. Everyone “says” they’re grateful–but we never seem to be able to hold on to the sense of just how lucky we are, how amazing just living is, for more than a few minutes at a time. It’s absolutely tough to do– today for example, I got a call at 9:00 am this morning from someone complaining about my stand advocating for students’ rights. Then there was a short power failure. I still can’t find my key to the house, and I haven’t yet had time to send two birthday cards or returned five calls and six emails– it ain’t easy to feel gratitude when you’re overwhelmed with feeling overwhelmed. But at the risk of being accused of plagiarizing myself (because I do use this quotation from Rabbi Tarfon in our latest documentary), “You are not required to complete the task, yet you are not free to desist.” So I will take a deep breath, look over at my husband getting ready to go for Rosh haShanah dinner, and I am, and will be, grateful.
Take a moment to count your blessing everyday– it may even help you fall asleep.
It’s that same old thing– you never think about something until…it’s not there, or it’s not working right, or it threatens to leave, or it hurts. I mean, do you really spend a lot of time thinking about your mouth? Right now in fact, when was the last time you thought about your mouth– if you don’t have a problem with your teeth, you haven’t thought about your mouth all day. But if you have a toothache, you only think about the pain. And you look back, all the way to…yesterday… when you didn’t think twice about your mouth and life was good. How come you never noticed how good your life was when your mouth wasn’t aching?
I was thinking about that when I was speaking to a young faculty member who said that the last university she taught at, she was always pressured to give As and Bs, grades far above what her students actually deserved. She said that students who couldn’t construct the most simple of speeches were given A-. I thought about all the things I wish I could change at the City University, but pressure to give undeserved grades isn’t on my list of gripes. I didn’t even realize I should be thankful– I didn’t even know what I had, until someone made me realize what life could be like. Half the things I need to be grateful for, I take for granted. Toenails are another example. And I am not being flip– years ago when I ran marathons, one of my toenails, the big one on my right foot, fell off. A guy studying to be a podiatrist told me the toenail would never grow back. I was stunned. I was 26 and couldn’t believe I’d never wear sandals again. It grew back, yet how many times do I ever think about being grateful about my toenails?
I’m just saying, we have so much to be grateful for, we don’t even know half, forget half, a quarter of it.