There are times in your life when you are poignantly reminded of just how fragile your existence truly is. Like the time when you have unwittingly eaten something heinous and it has decided to vacate your bodily premises by any and every means possible promptly at 2 o’clock in the morning.
And 4 o’clock. And pretty much every two hour interval thereafter until you are left wondering if there was not a small vital organ that may have slipped through in all that belligerent expellation– some small vital organ that you may have needed in fact quite soon– some small vital organ that would allow you to make it the 3 blocks to the deli for some gatorade.
But no. There is no unidentified flying organ to speak of. And there’s no way in hell you are makin’ it those 3 tiny-ass blocks to the deli. No. freaking. way.
And you start to consider the ratio of liquids-in to liquids-out, and you soon come to the startling conclusion that your fate is sealed by only two possible outcomes, neither one being very attractive. A) Your body finally gives up and dissolves into a gaseous liquidy mess á la the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz, or B) Your skin melts off your bones like the dude who looks into the ark at the end of The Raiders of the Lost Ark.
And it’s right at that point, my friends, where I have to say… Wow. Thank you God. Thank you thank you thank you for my (barring today) impeccable health. Thank you for my intestines, thank you for my amazing heart that beats ALL the time, thank you for circulatory function and muscular reflex and rapid eye movement and synapses and skin and alveoli and mitochondria and ganglia and everything everything everything that’s going on in there every second of every day that I don’t even think about. Thank. You.
Woooh man. I am full of thanks. I am full of thanks because I sure as hell ain’t full of anything that might resemble semi-digested food matter.
Gratitude might seem like a funny place to go whilst being struck down with incapacitating nausea, but y’know, it totally beats anger, fear, resentment, pissed-off-ness. Those are valid places to go. I get it. But why would you pile something painful on top of something that’s already causing you lots of pain? It’s like that game that wasn’t really a game that your big brother would play by making you hit yourself in the face with your hand and then ask, “Why are you hitting yourself? Stop hitting yourself.” over and over. (I love you Lee. and I forgive you.)
But gratitude– gratitude is a place you can go and no matter how absolutely crappy things are, your vision becomes clearer. You are instantly transported to a place of love. And that love is bigger than you, bigger than your situation, bigger than the fear, worry, isolation. And that is the place where you can finally begin to heal.
I have to admit, it’s not always easy to find the silver lining in a situation that is hurting you. Especially when the only lining you can think of belongs to your much-maligned stomach which has taken up residence in your esophageal region until further notice.
But the idea here is that there is a choice. You always have a choice to learn something. You always have a choice to see the beauty that can arise from the wake of destruction. That choice is always there.
And it’s not just “being positive.” No no no no… That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m all for positivity and sunshiny goodness, but baby– being “positive” when you actually feel like shit is not authentic and it will not serve you. I’m talking about being present. Being mindfully aware of everything going on with you and the circumstances around you, and then being awake to the beauty that is there- whether you choose to see it or not- inherent in all that is- and bestowing thanks for all of it.
So, as we walk through the valley of the shadow of illness, misfortune, bad hair, giardia, lackluster performance, lost love, missed busses, fudged opportunities, and failed marriages, let us remember that we are not alone. That somewhere out there, some poor bastard’s got it worse than us, and damn if we aren’t the lucky ones. And that what’s bigger than us– that magnanimous field of infinite love– is there, should we choose to see it and let it in. And as we allow it to soften the hurt, let us offer up some righteous, noble, and glorious thanks.