Let’s talk about Gratitude. Let’s delve into the giving of thanks.
Not the easy thanks. Not ‘someone held the door for me’ thanks. Not the ‘I got the job!’ thanks. Not even the intense gratitude when that semi misses your car by mere inches and you and your kids live to see another day. Those are all easy thanks. No matter the emotional intensity of the action that you are giving thanks for, you can’t not do it. When you survive, when you succeed, when you are given something, it is automatic, easy, simple to give thanks.
Learning to be grateful when life hands you pain… learning to say thank you for pain, for sorrow, for rejection.. that’s another matter entirely. There’s another sort of gratitude that you have to dig for. It’s way down deep, and it’s piled under a whole bunch of shit. The sort of thanksgiving you have to work for, and sweat for, and be really, really furious about finding. Learning to be thankful for the events, the people that make you scream with rage.. that’s the really hard part.
Last week the Universe put in my path someone whom I’d behaved poorly towards a few years ago. Not terribly, I wasn’t cruel, nor did I intentionally cause this person harm, that’s just not in my nature. But I’d been callous, and casual, and (Those of you who know me will find this next part shocking) I’d been PUSHY. yep. Me. Weird, right?
This person didn’t cause me any pain in return, even though I really think I annoyed the shit out of them at a time when they least needed distraction. Instead they shut me down, gently, but firmly. And then ignored me, entirely, until I gave up asking them for the thing they had that I really thought I needed.
So here it is, a few years later, and we’re both a bit different now, and we’re put together again. And here they are, with a giant neon sign floating over their head that is blinking the word “TEST” in warning red letters. I’m not dumb. I knew what I had to do. I just really didn’t want to frickin’ do it. I didn’t really want to do the work. That word TEST, though, those letters? They were pretty bright and blinding and blinking like crazy, and they were hard to ignore. They kept me up at night, and I had the feeling that if I wanted to sleep, like, ever again, I should probably do the damn work.
I think I filled a whole notebook before I was done. I wrote, and I thought, and I got mad, and walked, and I wrote some more. I swore. A LOT. I dug through all the shit, and I figured out what the damn lesson was. I felt all the fucking feelings. I did not do it gracefully, but that’s ok. Doing the work gracefully is not required. Thank fucking god.
Three days later, I figured it out. I found the lesson buried in the giant pile of shit. I grabbed my phone to text this person, to tell them that I’d finally gotten it, to explain everything and to apologize for being an ass… and then I stopped. This person didn’t need my apologies.
I owed them my gratitude.
The text I sent was very different, and a lot shorter, than the one I’d originally crafted. It was a lot more sincere, too. Because I wasn’t sorry. I didn’t like that I’d caused this person pain, but I accepted that it was part of the lesson.
I am very, very grateful for the lesson.