This morning I awoke early to the joyful sound of a chorus of birds calling in the sunrise. Even now, several hours later as I write this blog, the birds continue to sing to the warm sun. It is a heart expanding feeling just to listen.
For most of the last three weeks, following my youngest son’s college graduation, I’ve been on my own celebratory adventure walkabout in South America (where it is winter and only a few birds were singing). A group of like minded travelers and I walked across salt deserts, sand deserts, up mountains and through towns and ancient structures dating backs hundreds to thousands of years in Bolivia and Northern Chile. Clearly, us humans have been around a while. We looked up at night to see the Milky Way in its full glory and were wowed by the moon darkening the sun one afternoon for the full solar eclipse. We came to appreciate the days we had indoor heat and hot water, and I am forever grateful for the warmth of alpaca blankets.
So as I sit here back at home with my beloved dogs lying beside me, I am filled with one word – gratitude. Gratitude for being born into the life I was born into; gratitude for the weather Gods giving us sunshine; gratitude for the warm smiles of strangers when I badly bumble their language; gratitude for all the people who helped our adventure happen; gratitude for drivers who knew how to get deeply stuck 4×4’s out of ditches; gratitude for understanding the joy that people who have so little materialistically compared to us Americans still embody; gratitude for so many everyday kindnesses; gratitude for my children keeping our home in decent shape; and most of all, gratitude for the love I feel all around me.
Scott Peck, opens his best selling book The Road Less Traveled, talking about the idea that life is full of highs and lows and everything in between. He reminds us that if we acknowledge that kaleidoscope of experiences than we can deeply appreciate the highs and understand the lows. He reminds us that we get to choose our mindset.
I first read his words over 30 years ago when a lot of people I deeply loved had died. I was in a very dark place. His words woke me up and helped pull me up.
That sense of appreciation and gratitude helps create a sense of ease and keeps tougher moments in perspective. I am even grateful for my five long hours of hugging the porcelain goddess after something I ate disagreed with me on our trip. Thank goodness my body could quickly get it out, so I could go on with my adventure. I laughed and called it “my unexpected digestive cleanse”.
Perhaps some would call me pollyanish, but we only get so many days here in this life. But why not be grateful for just the gift of life – and breathe in the joy of all those birds still singing. Being grateful doesn’t mean that we ignore injustice. It is the about the balance of gratitude and standing up for our values. Gratitude heals our health. It strengthens our leadership. And well, gratitude just makes everything a little bit chirpier.