Gratitude rockI’m not a new agey sort of person.  I don’t much believe in crystals or affirmations and I certainly don’t believe there’s any “Secret”.    I do believe there are benefits to trying to see the positive side life,  I can attest to that personally.     Seeing the positive has made differences in my life I can’t really put into words,  but I sometimes need to be reminded of that.   I suppose everyone needs a reminder on occasion,  so I thought I’d share the reminders I’ve had these part few days with you,  in hopes it might spark a few reminders of your own.

One reminder smacked me upside the head while I was driving to get groceries after work on Wednesday night.  It had,  as usual,  been a 10 hour day at the office.  It was cold and I was tired and I had an article draft waiting to be worked on at home.   The last thing I wanted to do was go to the grocery.   So,  there I am driving along,  grumbling a bit to myself about having to get the stupid groceries and wishing the damn car heater would hurry up and heat up the car,  when it hit me,  this was exactly the sort of thing I would have given everything I had to experience during my dark year.    Money was short to non-existent that year.    I had a roof over my head by the grace of a very tolerant landlord who, for reasons never adequately explained,  let me stay in my apartment long after he should had thrown me out.   That was,  however,  about all I had.   I had no job,  nothing of any real value to sell,  and often,  no food.   There would be days at a time when I’d eat nothing.   I quite literally starved myself down about four clothing sizes.   In those days,  the thought of driving in a car which I owned to a grocery store where I could buy any type and any amount of food I wanted,  and then packing it all in the same car and driving to a home which I owned seemed as impossible as sprouting wings and flying to the moon.  Yet here I was,  some years later,  doing just that.

The second reminder visited me when I was doing my weekly pill allotment task.   I take quite a few different medications for various health problems,  and the expense of that and the tedium of doling them out once a week tends to get on my nerves.   This particular day, however,   I started thinking about the fact that I even here to stand at the counter and dole out the pills.   The odds were against me from birth.   I was born with seven holes between the upper chambers of my heart.   In 1969,  the year of my birth,  most kids with those types of birth defects didn’t survive.  It took four years for me to get big enough and weigh enough for the surgeons to be comfortable doing surgery,  which was fairly experimental at the time.   I survived that,  and thrived,  and my body hung with me through years when I neglected it by eating enormous amounts of junk food, carrying too much weight,  putting it under far too much stress and getting far too little sleep.    Even when my body did strike back,   when I had episodes of afib and double pneumonia and was hospitalized several times,  I still came through with relatively few consequences.  My irregularly beating heart didn’t throw a clot and cause a stroke.   Other than one episode of v-tach,  I never had a heart attack.   I was able to get smarter and get healthier and lose weight and find meds to control the issues that needed controlling.  Today I’m probably in better health than I’ve been in years but, had circumstances gone differently,  I might not have had the chance to improve my health at all.

Sometimes the sheer magnitude of what could have happened and didn’t,  and what shouldn’t have happened and did,  floors me.   While I don’t believe we should ever rest on our laurels and stop striving to achieve new things,  I also think sometimes we get so focused on where we want to be and aren’t,  that we forget where we are and what we have.   Anyone who’d met me during my dark year,  or in the years before that wouldn’t have given you good odds that I’d live to be 30,  much less 45.   I’m sure doctors told my parents when I was born that the odds weren’t good,  and yet here I am.   Striving toward the next goal is good and necessary and helps us live up to our potentials,  but along with the striving should also come being grateful.   Everyone has pain and sadness and adversity in their life,  but there are also bits of good and wonderful as well.   This is just a reminder that,  in the attempt to be the best we can be,   we should also be thankful for the best we are now.