“If I couldn’t be good looking or smart, I’m glad I’m lucky,” was what I told a friend last night that I’d lucked into a free beer at my neighborhood bar. My friends call things like this “Balloo Luck.”
One put it in a way that I’ll forever love when I lost my job back in January of this year: “I don’t worry about you. You could get dropped in the middle of the Sahara with only the clothes on your back, and if I came to check on you in a year you’d be leading a caravan of camels carrying spices accompanied by dozens of followers through the desert.” When I let him know I found a new job two months later, he texted me only the three camels in the header of this post.
I don’t actually consider it luck.
To me it’s gratitude. These kind of thing happens to a lot of people. You lose a job, you find a new one. Everyone gets a free drink from time to time. I choose to be hyper aware of every little good thing and be grateful for them, all the way up to the sum total of the life I’ve built for myself- the friends, the career, the passions and hobbies- I’m grateful for all of it, repeatedly and vocally. That conscious effort at gratitude has gotten me through some dark moments. I’ve been on my knees in despair and forced myself to find something to be grateful for. It’s saved my life more times than I care to admit.
It’s a consciousness of how much better I have it than so many people- compared to those who haven’t had my opportunities in life, to the oppressed in detention camps at our nation’s borders, or those in war torn nations hoping and praying just for survival. I am blessed.
Christianity centers around the concept of God’s grace, that salvation is not lightly given though easily claimed through faith. We’re supposed to be grateful for it. We’re supposed to be grateful for everything in our lives. Even the things we earn by sweat on our brow, how lucky we are to have another day to work and apply ourselves, strength in us to strive.
I don’t know what the point of all this is, neither this post of this whole raison d’etre I’m articulating. It makes me conscious of how good my life is and I truly believe it helps me make the most of it in a lot of different ways from day to day in how I treat the people in my life, and how I apply myself to work and my art. I’ve certainly earned a lot of the good things in my life through work and discipline, but I’m just as grateful for the opportunity and ability to work as well.
I think this all makes me more readily and automatically generous with myself and my time when I believe there’s kindness or help I can offer a person, however fleeting or perfunctory that kindness may be. I think it helps me find the courage to speak up in the name of compassion for the oppressed and endangered. There are a lot of people who have it bad right now, worse and worse in the current state of the world and politics writ large.
If you have a life you’re grateful for- however small those blessings are- then you become that much more sensitive to those who need kindness and compassion. What you do with that is another choice of your own, but I have to say: I sleep well every night. I wake up excited for each new day.