WEEK 24: on gratitude

meesh at whit'sWhen I told Sam that I was considering writing this week’s blog post about gratitude, he stopped what he was doing and gave me a plastic, half-smile. In response I offered, “that’s, um…kinda boring?” His plastic smile broadened as he left the room. This meant, decidedly, “Yes.”

And initially I agreed with him. But is gratitude really that boring? Sure it is. Sometimes. We tend to pigeon-hole gratitude as the sentimental, superficial journey through all of the lovely, positive things that are happening in our lives at a given moment: I’m thankful for my friends and family; for my pets; that I have a roof over my head and food on my table (just to mention a few true-though-banal examples).

But I believe gratitude and the act of being grateful can be quite powerful, too. Just two days ago I experienced the sweeping, forceful type of gratitude that brings tears to your eyes: Sam and I had just landed at O’Hare. I was in the bathroom (peeing, of course, which I do an awful lot of these days), when all of a sudden I was hit with the sudden realization that I was finally home—after two years in Kazakhstan and 34 weeks of pregnancy—and closing in fast on parenthood. It all felt overwhelming and unbelievable and so, well, REAL.

I’m not a religious person, so I’m not sure who (or what) I was speaking to, but at that moment, the only thing I could manage to say was “thank you.” Yes, it was a teary-eyed thank you whispered in an airport bathroom stall, but it was meant as an acknowledgment of all that Sam and I had done and seen and learned in the past two years. It was for our safe arrival, and for the realization that our lives were about to change in significant and unimaginable ways. It was all-consuming and definitely, definitely, not boring.

{Above: Mishka is grateful for Whit’s “doggy cup”—vanilla custard with a Milk Bone on top. Photo by Andrea Mueller.}

If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, that will be enough.
– Meister Eckhart –

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