Thursday, April 6, 2017

Down The Rabbit Hole of Gratitude

Our world is messed up.
Seriously messed up.

We have a president that openly lies...few call him on it.
So truth becomes "fake news".
Down is up.

Refugees are shut out.
Immigrants pushed to the shadows.

Public schools are on notice...maybe they don't need the money that they have...maybe they can donate to a private school in the name of "choice"...another false narrative.
There's no choice when they won't let you in...
except for maybe Historically Black Colleges - touted as the originators of choice by the woman running the Department of Education - who never worked in a public school.

The Environmental Protection Agency...maybe that should be optional.
Maybe not everybody is equal.
Freedom is your documents as you exit your domestic flight.

Let's watch Republicans change 230 years of precedent when it comes to the Supreme Court...
like Veruca Salt, THEY WANT IT NOW, DADDY!

Those Trump-Russia ties are only in your imagination.
Along with climate change.

And what about the immigrants...taken from schools and courthouses, placed in detention centers...
where and for how long?
No one can answer.
No one knows.

It is disgraceful.

As you can see...the world is upside down.

Deep breathing, long walks, fervent prayers aside what is a person to do?

Since books are my happy place, I hunkered down into The Book of Joy - a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

It became the salve of my heart.
My haven.
Something I carried with me wherever I went.

I've lived a grateful focused life since I began the practice of writing down
5 things as a project for 2003.

I have many many journals filled with those moments of gratitude.

It's a part of the way I see the world now.
Embedded into almost every interaction with others, every small moment with my kids, every ordinary chore like washing dishes or even washing my hands.

I water, soap, the ability to squish my hands together under the running water, the gift of clean hands to prepare a meal...and away I go. Finished with my chore and filled up with gratitude.

It's a life changing vantage point.


So, reading The Book of Joy, I nodded knowingly when both the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu kept circling back to the importance of gratitude.

I got this.
This is something I am good at...
Gratefulness 101 = A+

Only those two don't teach the beginner course on gratitude...they move it deeper...they nudge you further down the road.

You can get your PhD in it if you hang out with those guys long enough.

Like anyone really great in their field, both of these men offer their wisdom freely.
They share.
They work to get the word out.

No price of admission.

If you read The Book of Joy to the end, you will get to their "Joy Practices".

Mental Immunity
Morning Intention Setting
Overcoming Obstacles to Joy
Cultivating the Eight Pillars of joy
Rejoicing in your Day
Relationship and Community - The Greatest Joy

It was here where I tumbled down the Rabbit Hole of Gratitude.

Under Humility - A Lojong Practice - I found what my heart needed that day...
and it has helped in this upside down world every day since.

The book asks you to:
"Reflect on all the people who are responsible for your life."

At first, I was simplistic...thought of my mom and dad and moved on...
to this:

"Think of your parents who gave you life, your teachers who taught you, the people who grew your food and who made your clothes, the countless others who are responsible for your having the life that you have each and every day. Now think of all those who discovered and created all of the things we take for granted, the housing, the crops, and the medicines that keep you alive. 
Think of all the ancestors, who had to live and survive, so that you could be born, who braved enormous hardship so that you could have the life that you do. 
Now think of the family and friends who give your life meaning."

That one paragraph stopped me cold.

In all of the years that I have been keeping a Grateful Journal, did I ever stop and thank the people who came before me?
Or the inventors, the designers, the researchers, the creative artists who have influenced my life?

Not really.

If you stop and try to thank all of these people it can be a rabbit hole of amazing.

It goes like this...step into a public restroom.

Who came up with the idea and effort and work to place this restroom here?
Who actually dug the pipes?
Who invented the pipes?
Who mined the copper?
Where did that come from?
Who designed and created the place that collects the water that flows through these pipes?
Who designed the tile on the floor?
Who made the tile?
Shipped it?
Laid it?
Who designed the sink?
The faucet?
The paper towel dispenser?
The toilet paper??
(thank you!)
The blow dryer hand dryer?
The soap?
Who created the first window?
What about the lights?
The actual structure of the building?
Who were the people who worked on my behalf to build it?
Who funded it?
Was it a city?
Who founded the city?

On and on it goes...

Literally, you can get lost in the gratefulness.

This "humility" as the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu describe it is mind blowing.

In those moments of consideration,
you see the interconnectedness of our world...
you see the beauty of hard work, creativity, persistence, boldness,
ordinary mankind finding a way to make things better.

If you have gotten down in the rabbit hole with me,
you can imagine what it feels like when you enter a grocery store.
Lately, tears have sprung to my eyes as I stop to look at the produce and consider the many hundreds or thousands of people who have been working so hard on farms, in food production, in food companies, in advertising and grocery stores just to bring me this food.

How about a coffee store?
A library?
A road?
A sidewalk?
A park?
A building?
A garden?

Trying to come up out of the rabbit hole...and into daily life gets harder and harder.
It's like Alice says when looking through the looking glass:

"Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn,
"if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."
-- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, And What Alice Found There

I've seen a unicorn.

Or have I?

Like Einstein notices...each of us gets to choose:
either everything is a miracle or nothing is.

Today, I choose miracle.
Ordinary miracle.
Ordinary holiness.

So many gifts freely available down that rabbit hole.
Try it.
Let me know what you see.