Gratitude is not a feeling that comes easily to me. In the language of emotions, it is not my default. This is not to say that I don’t understand it, or haven’t felt it, but rather that it remains further out of reach than some of the others.
I read somewhere once that we live in a society that prizes the mind above all emotional intelligence and how damaging that is, and I wonder how many languages there are, and how many of those languages exist outside the realm of letters and words.
I feel joy easily. Embarrassment too. Guilt, often. Wonder and thrill and excitement. But not gratitude. And I think it’s because I have this idea that gratitude exists when things are settled--stable. But life is rarely any of those things. And frankly, I crave movement. So I am making a practice of it. Not by writing lists, but by realizing it’s a roll-of-a-dice that separates me from the guy across the aisle on the train. It’s a roll of the dice between health and not, work and not, life and not. It’s a roll of the dice between me and the woman who gets onto the elevator, hands shaking, knees bent by the exhaustion of a fading body. And I’d like to be clear here: I’m not saying fate or luck frees us from responsibility, but rather some parameters simply are. We don’t get all the say. But we get to choose how we behave within a set of rules--to face struggle and complications with grace and kindness.
I am learning to feel gratitude even in the choppy waters. Because my iteration of this life is lucky. And when I think about that, even as I occasionally struggle to stay afloat, gratitude erupts before me. Even as terror and discomfort and confusion reign, so does a deep wonder and satedness. The landscape isn’t flat and life isn’t still. And if I waited for those things I’d never know what it is to be thankful. But I’d also never know what it is to be human, to struggle, and to keep going.