A few weeks ago, a friend invited me to participate in a Gratitude Challenge where, for each of three days, I had to list three things for which I was grateful. I posted the lists on Facebook, per the challenge, and have decided to repost them on my blog. Perhaps my decision to repost them is driven by my conviction that giving thanks is necessary in life and doing so is an affirmation of the items of gratitude I originally expressed.
For those who have seen them already, I hope you will not be bored, and for those who are reading them for the first time, I hope you can relate. Here goes:
Gratitude 1: I am grateful for my wonderful family, including my wife, son, siblings, parents (gone but not forgotten), cousins, nieces, nephews and in-laws, with whom I share so many blessings, and so much happiness
Gratitude 2: I am grateful for all of my friends, whom I consider to be my extended family: their presence in my life has brought me many blessings as well, and
Gratitude 3: I am grateful for a number of super special people, both friends and relatives, who have significantly impacted my life and helped me to be where I am today, whether it was through buying me lunch when I was at university in Jamaica to “temper the white squall” at times when I didn’t have “two pennies to rub together”, or providing me with guidance on how to handle some of the curve balls or googlies that life would throw at me.
Gratitude 1: I am grateful for the fortune of having been able to visit and live in so many countries beyond the shores of my little dot on the map called Jamaica. International exposure has opened my eyes in so many ways, and has taught me many invaluable lessons: In Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in West Africa, I learned about what caring and sharing truly mean, even in the midst of not having much. Three weeks in that country taught me, very poignantly, that material riches neither equate to nor generate true emotional wealth and happiness. It is, rather, the quality of the relationships we share with our fellow human beings that brings us real and lasting joy. My stay in India taught me about how similar we all are deep down, and that some of our differences are simply superficial. There, arranged marriages are institutionalized, and we may say this is different from our own practices in the Western world… however, if you think about it, we do have arranged marriages as well, but on a less formal level: Who among us does not know of a girl or a guy whose parents steered them away from, or towards a potential spouse?
Gratitude 2: I am grateful for the elements, especially water, which is so purifying and relaxing. I can sit and watch a tropical downpour forever, as it brings a certain calmness to my soul (unless it is part and parcel of a phenomenon the likes of Hurricane Gilbert in 1988!). I remember riding home one afternoon from downtown Kingston to Barbican via Mountain View Avenue. Typically, Warieka Hill to the right seemed to be all grey, covered perhaps by either the cement dust from the cement factory or by the flour particles that escaped from the flour mill, both situated in nearby Rockfort (at least my theories then). On this occasion, I remember vividly, the skies suddenly burst open and showers pelted the earth for about two minutes. And then, as if by magic, the overhead floodgates closed and the sun came piercing through, as it does only in Jamaica. What a transformation! The skies were suddenly blue again, with fluffy white clouds that seemed to have been summoned by some strange force to quickly take up back their usual lofty positions; Warieka Hill shed its grey cover and was green again, leaves on the trees washed by the rain, and everything was sparkling as the sunrays performed a lightshow with the droplets of water on the nearby trees and on the cars going by, and danced on the rainwater running down the sides of the road. I have often wished to experience that magic again….earth, water, light (fire) and air doing their thing… the simple pleasures of life…
Gratitude 3: I am grateful for all my teachers for the knowledge they have passed on to me: From the one who gave me my lowest mark in high school (17% for my first French exam) to the one who gave me 98% for an Industrial Arts exam, claiming that although I had answered all questions correctly, he never gave anyone 100%, and so he scrutinized my paper over and over to find a reason not to give me 100% … he found an apostrophe missing from a word and deducted 2% for that lapse of grammar in my writing! Both of these marks were lessons in themselves: The first one taught me how to study hard and make the best use of my time in school (today I am fluent in French), and the second taught me to be meticulous and always strive for the best at all times. These are lessons which have helped me over and over in other spheres of my life.
I am grateful for the following three things: YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW:
Gratitude 1: YESTERDAY came and left, but, although gone, it has left me with some great memories: memories about how civil we used to be to each other, memories about the respect we had for our elders and, very importantly, memories about good times! Have you ever sat alone, staring into your past, reliving some joyous moment, so very vividly turning over in your mind that it would cause a smile to suddenly break out on your face? Well, it has happened to me a few times and, whenever it did, I would catch myself with a start, wondering if anyone had seen the smile and thought I was crazy. Talk about taking walks down memory lane.
Gratitude 2: TODAY is indeed here and, as I go along with my daily tasks, whether at work with my colleagues or at home with my wife and son and his dog, or sharing a joke with my neighbor, it gives me the opportunity to put my best foot forward and savor life in the moment. It gives me the opportunity to implement lessons from mistakes of the past, and to build on positive experiences of the days and years gone by.
Gratitude 3: Today also gives the opportunity to hold expectancy for TOMORROW; in the vein of Victor Vroom’s expectancy theory, we can choose to plan for making it wonderful, or we can allow ourselves to be led by the glass-half-empty syndrome. I choose the former: Do you remember as a kid the excitement and expectancy you had on the eve of a school outing? So enveloped by the thought of the fun that you were going to have that you woke up every half-an-hour to see if the sun was already up and wondered why it was taking so long if you saw nothing but darkness through the crack of the window? That is how I try to think about tomorrow…hope and dreams and plans for good things to come.