I came home today after a long run and saw the following text from a close friend of mine:
Walking into the gym I was dreading the workout to come, the gruesome leg day that is not only painful during but for the subsequent days to come. As I look up I see a guy rolling out of the gym in a wheelchair, and I think to myself “I wonder how badly he wishes he could work out his legs. Fuck this shit. NPS.
Side note: NPS stands for “No Pussy Shit.” It is like our ghetto slogan for “Just Do It.”
Tyler and I communicate on a regular basis. Over the years he’s become more of a brother to me. But it was a bit peculiar that of all the days he could text me this, he chose today.
You see, grateful or being grateful has been a topic that’s been on my mind recently. I’ve been so “busy” with mundane things lately, that I haven’t stopped to say thank you.
Some people may say thank you to Jesus, Jehovah, Superman but whatever name you have for the mysterious force that governs life, say thank you.
Many people, and sometimes myself included, go about their days in a robotic motion. It’s as if they are just going through the motions and living for the weekend or a far off vacation.
I used to work at a bank, and being a sociable person that I am, I would always take this opportunity to better know my customers.
I would always sincerely ask, “How was your day?” And nothing peeved me more than the response I got from over 75% of the customers.
“Same shit, different day.”
I mean really? Did you not see the sun come up? Did you not see how beautiful it was today? Was there really nothing that made you stop and marvel? In times like these I was reminded of some of the most beautiful words I have ever read.
You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.
We as human beings have a 1 in 100,000 chance of being born in America. Whether or not you believe that America is the greatest country in the world is beside the point, you have to admit that no other country has opportunity like this.
I’m also assuming that if you’re reading this you’re most likely of healthy mind and body. All things considered, you’re a healthy, fit individual in the most opportunity friendly country on the planet. Have you stopped to think about that?
My friend Rafa showed me a shirt that I think encapsulates how everyone should feel. The shirt simply says, “Today, I can do anything.”
We have the whole world in the palm of our hands. We have the ability to follow our dreams, fail, and try again. Barring any James Dean like incident or a catastrophe, we can do anything!
Yet most of us go about our days following the same old routine and do not stop to look around and marvel at the beauty that is life.
I like to think that I’m an optimistic and ambitious person. But even I sometimes forget how blessed I truly am.
About a year ago my mother and I visited family friends in Fresno. On the way up she told me more about the family, whom she hadn’t seen in years. She lamented that their youngest son had a mental disability. My mother didn’t know the name but she told me in advance anyways.
I have seen and interacted with people of disabilities before. And I suspected she only told me so that I wouldn’t have a surprised look on my face when I met six-year-old Abraham.
We got there, said hi and I pretended to care about what my mother’s friend was saying. I completely forgot about the son, whom I didn’t see upon my initial visit, and I left to visit a friend in the city. Besides, I’d rather leave so that my mother could now catch up with her friend without my “its fucking boring I want to go home and drink” look. I took her to visit as favor,a and it was dickish of me to go reluctantly.
A came back a few hours later as nightfall descended down on this warm summer evening.
I said hello to the family again and my mom asked me about how my get together went. After some more small talk, I excused myself to go to the restroom. Too many Diet Cokes.
Upon leaving the bathroom, I heard a sound and whimper coming from the kitchen. I figured it was their son. I decided to go see him and say hello. I had never met him before and really had nothing to say.. But I think the selfish part in me wanted to prove that I could “handle” people with disabilities. Looking back, it was a very selfish thought.
I crept up to the kitchen and saw the back of a small, underdeveloped boy waving his arms excitedly.
He turned around and shot a smile at me, muttering excitedly. I waved hello and smiled. Then something came over me. Till this day, I cannot explain what exactly had happened. But it moved me in such a way, that thinking about it now still gives me goose bumps.
As soon as we made eye contact, it was as if our minds became one. We were almost communicating telepathically. It couldn’t have lasted more than a few seconds, but as soon as I snapped out of it, I began to tremble and tear up. I went outside to catch my breath and to try to make sense of what had just happened.
It was as if Abraham was reminding me to count my blessings. “I have done everything I can with what I’ve been given. And here you are, capable of so much more, yet you still bicker and complain and look for excuses.”
His smile was full of content and happiness almost like that of an old man who had accomplished everything in his life. But he was a six-year-old disabled boy whom doctors thought wouldn’t live past the age of two, much less walk. And now he was six and reminding a 23 year old ungrateful person of the importance of giving thanks.
I was shaken to a core. On the drive home I was quiet, as I refused to bring it up to my mother. I wasn’t ashamed of it by any means, but the experience was so powerful that at the time, I couldn’t find the words to explain it.
I can’t believe I had forgotten about that. But with “being grateful” seemingly the topic on my mind this week, it only makes sense that I’m reminded now more than ever of Abraham’s lesson.
Just recently, I had the pleasure of virtually meeting author Steven Pressfield. He is best known as the author of “The Legend of Bagger Vance.” He was kind enough to mail our office several copies of his books. Being an avid reader, I was more than excited to delve into his book “The War of Art.”
In it he outlines the struggle artists go through in creating their work. He talks about several ways to prepare and break down the barriers that keep one from creating any piece of work that adds value to society, such as a painting, book or business.
A few of his chapters touch on how our talents and genius are gifts from above, and as such they should be treated as special. He goes on to say that we as artists have to acknowledge the higher being at work and give thanks for that blessing (s).
Tyler’s text, Abraham’s lesson and Steven Pressfield’s book could not have come at better time. I spent the better part of this afternoon reflecting on those lessons and being appreciative of what I’ve been given. I decided to write some of those down, as the smallest things are the most powerful blessings. The more I thought about what I’m grateful for, the happier I became. Now the challenge is having that same outlook every day. I hope no one has to have something terrible happen to him or her in order to appreciate the opportunity they’ve been given or the talent they’ve been blessed with.
By no means am I insinuating that I’m an expert or a better person for sharing this, but i sincerely hope you get something out of this post.
What about you? What are you grateful for today?
The upcoming months will be challenging. I do not know if my eBook will get published, I do not know if she will ever return my love, I do not know if that course will be well received. But what I do know is that life is good, because I’m still asking questions and following my heart. And that’s what I’m most grateful for.