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Thankful Awareness

Posted in Reflections by Pam on June 1, 2010
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Last week I met with a dear and lovely woman to discuss some health issues. As our conversation moved along, she revealed to me that her husband passed away last year and a mere two months later, her daughter passed away (from breast cancer). To add to this her daughter and son-in-law had recently (a few years ago) adopted two young children. Amazingly enough, the health issue we were discussing was a broken hand she received while salsa dancing around the Christmas tree during this past holiday season with her grandchildren. Her story has stayed uppermost in my mind since I met with her. I want to wrap my arms around her and tell her she is one of the most inspirational people I have met in a very long time. I am in awe of her. I want to strive to be like her.

The courage and fortitude demonstrated by this woman has brought to me a multitude of thoughts. The main one being gratitude. I have a little book on this subject that has many little tidbits of inspiration. One of the best says: “God, teach me to use gratitude and letting go to reduce the size of my problems.” “My problems?!” — I think to myself. My problems are minuscule compared to others. There is way too much fussing, bickering, diva-ness, selfishness and “it’s all about me”-ness going on though many times we don’t even realize we are doing it (myself included)! It is tougher to do this in our troubled economic times (or whatever troubled times one is having) and the fallout sometimes bears its ugly head in a variety of other ways causing us to act out in not-so-nice ways to friends and loved ones.

Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us in his book “The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching” that “When we have a toothache, we know that not having a toothache is happiness. But later, when we don’t have a toothache, we don’t treasure our non-toothache.” Man, can I relate! This weekend I am homebound and uncomfortable with conjunctivitis. My eyes feel like someone from the beach nearby has tossed a handful of sand at me. Each blink of my eyes hurts. Slowly, thanks to the eye drops I am using, it is getting better. I must remind myself, when this is gone, to treasure not having the pain any longer. I am trying to tell myself that this is a sign given to me by someone up above to be grateful for the good health that I normally have and that others do not.

Let’s try to whittle things back down to the basics. Cut out the stuff that we tend to pile on ourselves that weighs us down and then overflows onto our loved ones. This is much easier said than done, I know. But it sure can’t hurt to try. And be grateful. Be grateful for every single thing, large and small. Let’s all try to salsa dance around the Christmas tree even though our hearts are full of pain and despair. It sure won’t make the pain and despair disappear, but it might make it a little bit easier to work through it.

I leave you with this thought:

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little; and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick; and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.
– Buddha

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5 Responses to 'Thankful Awareness'

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  1. Cyndee said,

    Well said! And a nice read to start my day.

  2. Alex Duarte said,

    l totally understand how the woman you are referring to will focus on the big picture, l recently lost my mom that l love very much and l think she also went thru a lot while she was in her last days, but it was not a matter of stoicity or resignation but fortitude, she was known for praying to God for strenght and wisdom and as for us, her children -and my dad- we all learned a valuable lesson taught by her example. Mother Teresa once asked her staff to lear to keep small things small and big things big. Simply putting to keep the right perspective. Thanks for sharing that beautiful thought, Pam.


  3. This is the first time I’ve found you and I’ll be back! Your “Thankful Awareness” title resonates with me. Thinking about not being thankful for our non-toothache times reminds me of a quote I have sticking up on my bulletin board from Kahlil Gibran: “I have learnt silence from the talkative, tolerant from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.”

    Best,
    Erica

    • Pam said,

      Thank you Erica – and thanks for the quote!!!!


  4. Nicely written, Pam, and definitely worth sharing. Thanks! Cherie


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