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On Gratitude

Mid-way through dinner tonight, we heard a loud “BANG!”  Everyone looked up from their plates wondering what it had been.  A firework left over from the 4th of July?  A gunshot?  Some sort of explosion?  Within minutes, we saw a blaze across the lake, forming a crimson path on the water and sharpening the silhouette of the pine tree in front of it.  It happened in a flash — a quiet and peaceful evening turned into a steady stream of sirens and a fireball raging out of control, smoke billowing and flames leaping.  I’m not sure what happened or if anyone was home or if everyone got out or if anything could have possibly been salvaged.  The only thing that’s certain is that it happened so unbelievably fast.  Everything changed — in that house, in that family, in that neighborhood — in an instant.

It’s instants like these that remind us how precious every single minute of every single day is.  It’s instants like these that remind us that despite anything else going on — any crankiness or frustration or questioning or stress or screaming children or late airplanes or annoying telemarketers or whatever else — each of us has things to be grateful for.  Things like strong bodies and food that fuels us and healthy families and the right to vote and simply living in a place where we’re safe, warm, fed and loved.  So if you do one thing today to take care of yourself, start with gratitude.  And if you need a few prompts, here are a few easy ones, courtesy of a book I’m working my way though right now: 344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment.

What makes you happy when you see it?

What makes you happy when you hear it?

What makes you happy when you think about it?

What makes you happy when you feel it?

What makes you happy when you get to do it?

What makes you happy when you taste it?

What makes you happy when you get to wait for it?

Who do you love?

Who loves you?

What do you take for granted about your body?

What do you take for granted about your mind?

And if you’re still struggling to come up with something…Have you used electricity today?

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