GRASPING FOR GRATEFUL STRAWS
There are days when gratitude comes easily. You wake up in that warm, fuzzy state of bliss, where everything from your coffee to your toothpaste gives you delight. You are grateful the seasons are changing. You are grateful for the job you have. The sidewalk beneath your feet, your dogs drool.
Then there are days when gratitude is hiding under the bed. It’s totally concealed by dark cloud.
It feels like life and events are conspiring against you. And in order to keep yourself from losing it- you have to grasp for the grateful straws.
You don’t have to. You can give in and huff and puff, curse your world and everybody else’s. You can blame, play victim, aggressor or disappear into a fog of anger or depression.
Or – you can grasp for a grateful straw.
The thing about gratitude is it’s an easy rode to take when everything seems to be tilting in your favor.
It’s much harder to be grateful when you are late to work and you find your car battery dead. Or when you stand up to answer the door and trip over the dog and find yourself in the emergency room with a broken ankle.
There are thousands upon thousands of things that slap us around and challenge our ability to be grateful. But it is in those moments when we have to grasp for the grateful straws. We tend to be most creative, transcendent, and when we are able to do it – truly grateful.
I think creative is a big part of it; sometimes we have to reach really far in order to grab a grateful straw.
Last week I was fighting with my older daughter. Those of you with children know, it’s virtually impossible to get along with them all the time, especially when they are between certain ages.
I love my daughter. I would take a bullet for either one of my children. But last week she wasn’t only getting on my last nerve, she was smashing it to bits. We were in a total stand off.
I went right to the land of pissed off. It was her fault. She was ungrateful, not loving, not being responsive to me… I was laundry listing her faults and only making myself unhappy and depressed.
The truth is because I love her so much fighting with her makes me sad. And we all know it’s hard to be grateful when you are sad. So it becomes a vicious cycle and you find yourself just going from mad to furious and further and further from grateful.
But at one point I really stopped myself and said “Come on Tracey, you have to practice what you preach here. Let’s try and be grateful.”
I’m grateful that…she won’t…no you can’t start a grateful with a negative. But grasping is exactly that. I had to grasp.
I am grateful she is alive. Yes. I indeed. I am grateful she is healthy. God, yes, what if she had been born with some terrible defect. I am very grateful for that. I am grateful she is not a hooker. That’s certainly something to be grateful for. Think of all those moms out there whose daughters are hookers. Thanksgiving comes around and you have to say, “My daughter the hooker is bringing the rolls.”
I know it sounds goofy but the operative word is grasping; grasping for grateful straws. Straws are narrow and flimsy and we need them to just get us through the difficult moments.
Just like straws bring liquid from a glass to our mouths, the fine stream of gratitude eventually nourishes us back to a place of calm and from there we can think clearly.
So when the car battery is dead. Be grateful there is public transport. Be grateful if your husband or neighbor can maybe drive you to work. Be grateful you have a phone and can call for help. How about you have a car to begin with. Many don’t.
Broken ankle, be grateful we have emergency rooms. Be grateful breaks heal in time. How about they have soft casts these days and not those awful plaster things of my youth.
Again, we’re grasping and they are straws, but it gets us through until life moves us to the next place, which it always does.
Life is fluid. Things always change. The place we find ourselves in today is not going to be the place we find ourselves in a week, a month or sometimes an hour.
But we are human, our feelings get hurt, our tempers do flare, our patience wears thin, our calm is challenged. But instead of giving into our negative instincts or old behavior patterns, instead of letting our cages get so rattled we can’t think straight and thus only see ourselves stuck forever in this spot, we need to grasp for some grateful straws to get us through.
Within three days my daughter and I had made up and were back to our lovey dovey ways.
I just needed to grasp a few gratitude straws to get me through.