Whether you call it a reflection, a prayer or a meditation doesn’t matter. There was a brief statement of thanks that we developed in our home several years back. It goes something like this…
We are thankful for the roof over our head, the warm food on our plates and the love of our family. We give thanks for these things, for we know so many of our brothers and sisters in this world are not so lucky tonight.
These words came naturally and felt especially profound, for obvious reasons. But allow me to expand…
No matter how great things seem to be in your life, no matter how #blessed you are, the successes and material things mean NOTHING, without the health and security of those you care about. Absent their love, support and well-being, so many of life’s accomplishments are hollow. A building is only as strong as its foundation. And if you plan to weather the storm… If you desire to survive through the hard times, you’re going to have to construct your castle with bricks. With a weak home base, you can’t expect to withstand life’s battles.
Conversely, no matter how seemingly fucked your situation appears, there are people in this world who have it so much worse. As a matter of fact, I would venture to guarantee that there are human beings on this planet who would literally kill to trade places with you for ten minutes on your worst day. People—not only in the slums of the developing world, but around the corner or across the tracks from where you lay your head each night, are dealing with often unimaginable circumstances. I try to keep in mind the gravity of my #firstworldproblems as they often pale when compared to matters of life and death. A late bill or a strained muscle or a complicated relationship, though it seems to be the be-all-end-all in the moment, is not the end of the world. As the recent sabre-rattling antics of superpowers and the genocidal tendencies of despots should remind us, the end of the world is quite literally the end of the world. Until you can’t come back from something, you can always come back.
Which leads me to the preoccupation with material goods that we all partake in to varying degrees. Your humble author is as guilty as anyone. I’ve always been enchanted by foreign cars and brand name clothes, fresh kicks and the finest meats and cheeses. Always chasing that which I long believed I wasn’t intended to have—the external signs of status and accomplishment designed to distinguish a man from his peers. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the finer things. But have come to realize over time that it is all just disposable, replaceable shit. Meaningless, big picture. There’s always a nicer car. New sneakers come out every Saturday. You can buy that shirt at the local mall. You can make that money back. What is truly priceless in our lives simply can’t be bought.
In a life characterized by an incessant push toward the horizon, it is easy for the ambitious individual to take the present moment for granted. With blinders on we grind today into the ground for the promise of a better tomorrow—a day that very well might never come. All we are promised, all we can truly count on, is this fleeting minute in which we are blessed to exist. While hoping, working and striving for a breathtaking future, we must allow ourselves to behold the beauty of right now, with awe, wonder and gratitude.
In perusing my Facebook feed this morning, I was notified of a memory from two years ago. It was a picture of Sienna, all of two years old, in a poke-a-dot Minnie Mouse hoodie and Tiffany Jordan 3s, sitting on the walkway outside of our old Southeastern Pennsylvania condo on a warm Spring afternoon, intently drawing on the concrete in sidewalk chalk. In the two years since, so many things have changed. Many for the dramatically better. But my Sweet Angel Baby is no longer such a baby. In the two years I have been grinding toward this moment, Daddy’s Little Girl became a four-year-old little girl. I blinked and she grew exponentially in every way. Still so tiny and precious. But not for long. I try to remain cognizant of this fact. Not losing sight of how rapidly this life passes us by… How quickly today will pass away, if we don’t learn to value it vigilantly.
I write this entry today as, if nothing else, a reminder to myself. To stop being such a hard-headed, impatient, determined asshole for long enough to appreciate the glorious triumph present in the present. When my eyes opened this morning and I was able to rise with the sun, with a roof over my head and food in the pantry for my family, I had already scaled mountains many unfortunate souls live their whole lives unable to climb, due to staggering circumstances so far beyond their control. In this awareness of the full house fortune has already dealt me, I begin my endeavors from a place of ambitious appreciation. Hungry for more. Never settling. But profoundly grateful.
My attitude, for better or worse, is in large part responsible for where I stand today. And flawed as I am, I wouldn’t change a thing. It is who I am. But what can always be altered and challenged, is my perspective. In understanding all that I have, I came to know what I truly needed. In being thankful for who I am, I came to better illuminate all that I wanted to be. In the seemingly small and often overlooked minutiae of every day there is so very much for which to be truly grateful. Life is limitless when you’re able to adjust your gratitude.