I recently dialogued with a friend about ways in which we show appreciation for life. She had several practices including depositing notes of gratitude into a jar and posting photos of places, people and things of which she is thankful on Facebook. I am a beginner at this but now regularly hike a forest path I call the gratitude trail. When on it I recount all that gives me joy including my strong legs and lungs, the moss and fern, my friends and family. On other days my list arises sporadically and a multitude of wondrous things rushes into my head. It is an amazing practice and I find the more I do it the more beauty I see regardless of how bleak the day may first appear.
I wonder why I never did this before.
I have tried many a time to instigate it over the course of my life. Myriads of self help gurus promote the practice and even fashion retailers tell us to slow down and smell the roses but the practice never stuck with me. Why now?
Could it be the well-meaning friends who did their best to change me for what they considered the better? Perhaps it was the years of good therapy or, then again, the many more I went solo? I’ve read countless psychology books both pop and academic; trained under a renowned BodyMind therapist and have long since incorporated meditation as a life practice… Is the expression of gratitude an accumulation of these many events however mundane; however profound?
Why are some children born so incredibly aware while I only begin (and I emphasize the word begin) to understand the foundation for true joy in my fifth decade?
We could perhaps unriddle this question by comparing nature vs nurture, education, opportunity and privilege; the choices we make and paths we take. We could also go metaphysical and explore karma and past lives or invoke Spirit and talk of God’s grace but I really don’t think we would find the answer.
I had a dream some time ago where I found myself working as an office clerk. Before me was an enormous tome filled with actuarian tables: labyrinthine formulas and complex statistics. I am utterly confused as to my work duties so I turn towards the manager and say: "I wouldn’t normally ask this but since this is a dream... What job are we doing?" He sheepishly replies he has not a clue but, recovering his composure ever so slightly, points to the book and states: the answers lie there.
I love this dream. It suggests that life is indeed an enigma and we really are not supposed to know the ins and outs of all its workings. And while there may yet be found a formula, good luck in trying to unravel it.
So, to answer my question as to why I am just beginning to get a glimpse of what is truly important I must borrow from the Beatles: It's the magical mystery tour of time. In other words, I haven’t a clue but the time is none other than perfect.