Several friends on Facebook have asked me to list three things I am grateful for, and to continue that for five days.
I’m a bit of a rebel, so I am not following that format, but still making my list of fifteen things I am grateful for:
Family. No, not the biological family, necessarily, but the people I am close to, those I feel a kinship with. They love me, without condition, but also with loving criticism and support. They speak up when they feel I need a lesson, or some encouragement, or need to, perhaps, change direction or reconsider my point of view.
Friends. Real friends. Friends who speak the truth, who are there for me and will sit with me, in silence, when times are hard. They are present in my life, and offer me unfiltered and true wisdom and fellowship.
Nature. A continual experience of beauty, simplicity, peace, and a constant reminder that I am part of the Universe, part of the cycle of life, part of a Plan that remains a mystery, but also a constancy in my life.
Growing older. I am continually reminded of the Cycle of Life, of seasons, of cycles and rhythms, and thus, a sense of order and place for myself in the Universe. “This too, shall pass” puts a lot of problems in perspective and helps me move on, not sweating the small stuff, and being able to handle the Big Stuff, as well. With age comes experience, and wisdom, as well as lessons that need to be relearned.
Community. In life, there are others there to help, to support me, to offer something as simple as friendship, a sense of place, a sense of belonging. I am part of a Greater Whole. And, in that, I have my own unique role to play. I am important, as well as being part of something bigger than myself.
A thirst for education. I am eager to learn, to take in new information, new ideas, new perspectives. In that, I grow, I expand my horizons, I gain a new perspective. In that, I give myself permission to discard old ideas, old viewpoints, and see the world as being in motion, being dynamic. When I learn, I change, and thus I find the change to not be so hard, because when I change, I grow.
Music. When I immerse myself in music, I find rhythm, cadence, and connection. I find voice, and I find ways to express myself, digging deep into emotions. Listening, playing, being caught up into the moment and the experience of music, I am connected, and I find a big part of myself. In that, I discover new ways of thinking, new approaches, and I grow.
Real, purposeful conversations. Real, honest, uninhibited conversations with others, exploring new ideas, learning of the experiences of others, and how they connect with the world, how they relate, and, in that, being challenged to look at my own ideas, my own experiences, my own purpose of being here. I often get this when I am mentoring young men, but I welcome such rich experiences anywhere, with anyone.
Getting out of my comfort zone. I find new energy when I move out of my easy chair, my usual way of looking at something, finding new ideas, and challenging the old ways. I don’t easily embrace change, but change makes me move on, makes me throw a few of my old ways, stale ideas, and old habits, out the window, making room for something new, and hopefully, something better.
Ancient ways. Be it the lighting of a candle on a dark evening, or telling stories around a campfire, or sharing the rhythm and fellowship of a drumming circle or a walk on the beach, or taking in a sunset, or kneading a loaf of bread, there is comfort and space to grow in doing something primeval, just like my ancestors did. I connect, and feel a peace, a comfort, away from the hectic craziness of modern society.
Art. Making art, experiencing art, letting those voices and those experiences spend time with my soul, letting that expression speak to me, and giving time to let that soak in, become part of my life, part of my experience. In that, I find peace and a sense of purpose that goes deep down into the core of my soul.
Sleep and rest. Quiet time. Time to muse, reflect, slip into my Dream World, putting aside hectic activity and just Be. Away from the distractions and noise of modern life, I connect to being truly human, truly a child of the Universe.
Modern communications, the Internet. Yes, it can be and is distracting, noisy, interrupting of old rhythms of the day, but this is also an incredible source of knowledge and education, and connecting with people, despite geography. This can be a curse, but it is also a blessing, and a great means of being connected with others.
The kindnesses of strangers. Every day, I have experiences where others are kind, generous, helpful, appreciative, supportive. I try to acknowledge that with them, and also with myself. I am grateful for such kindness, and I hope to believe that being kind of part of our humanity, and part of our culture.
Being able to recognize that I am grateful for so many things, that I can express my thankfulness, and to be appreciative, and that others value gratitude and believe kindness, thankfulness, and gratitude are essential, and deserve to be recognized, and celebrated.