Yes we have all heard how helpful it is for us to be grateful for what we have. Well I disagree. I disagree because the statement is SO understated. In fact it is just completely STUPID for us not to be experiencing gratitude on a daily basis!
Granted this is coming from a guy who often takes things from granted. I don’t care what our age is, it is just easy for us to presume that life will keep moving along at its normal speed and fashion.
But this is just not true. I want you to know that I am not writing this as an avenue to bellyache or get any “oh, poor baby’s”. It has just become profoundly apparent to me that the vicissitudes of life are often a challenge. As a psychologist I see this with my patients every day. In case you have not figured it out yet, life is difficult. I don’t personally know anyone who has been unscathed from this fact.
Though there have been several severe cases of “life is difficult” in my own family, I want to share a personal example. It was a year ago this coming April that I played numerous games of tennis with my very good friend. I had not played in years and yet I was pleasantly surprised with how well I did. For some reason it was about two weeks later that the bottom of my foot began hurting while walking.
Within a day I was experiencing considerable pain just walking across the living room. But I presumed Mother Nature would take care of things. Well to make about a 9-month story short I ended up with foot surgery on my right three toes on January 4. I am now several weeks post-op. I cannot do any weight bearing on the front half of my heal or the shiny metal pin sticking out of my second toe may become dislodged and necessitate a repeat surgery. I have recently graduated from a soft cast to an orthotic boot. I sleep with the boot out of the covers so that there is no chance for the covers to pull out the pin when I turn over at night.
Being my right foot, my poor wife has to drive me EVERYWHERE since it is illegal to drive with the boot. I could go on and on about the pain in my foot (obviously), hips, and knees from walking off balance. But I will not.
The point here is that nine months ago I had no idea how much I enjoyed walking without pain. I have always enjoyed taking our dog for a walk but that has pretty much ended these past months. Nine months ago I just took it for granted that standing at the sink in the morning while shaving was something we guys all do. Now, after the surgery, I usually kneel on my little “knee scooter” or balance precariously on one foot.
Nine months ago I didn’t have to explain to almost all my patients why I have my leg elevated in our session. I could stroll down the office hallway to pick up the mail without it being an ordeal. I had no problem making it to my office desk before the phone stopped ringing.
Now, these are just a few little inconveniences having to do with my impaired foot. If I am fortunate the metal pin will come out of my toe in three weeks and I will be closer to the road to recovery. But then what?
What then will I begin taking for granted? My knees? My fingers? My hearing? My eyesight? What about my memory? I had a benign kidney tumor operated on two years ago. Will I appreciate the fact that there are no signs of cancer? Then there are my friends and loved ones. Will I begin taking their lives and emotional connections for granted?
I surely hope that will not happen. But unfortunately it is the human condition, which makes it likely that I will. The only way I know how to overcome that is by practicing gratitude every day…throughout the day.
I believe positive aging calls for us to practice gratitude. Because, if we do not practice gratitude I believe any pain and suffering we experience will be wasted.