It finally occurred to me that instead of counting weeks past, I should have a bigger eye on the final challenge—that fateful week that will either see me easily coasting down the California coast like a pro or huffing and cramping my way through hell like a Last Minute Larry who didn’t train enough. So I’m changing the titles of these posts to reflect the big countdown. 24 weeks seems like remarkably little time. Um, especially since I finally got my bike, and I’m too scared to ride it. Thank all that is good for willing, patient, and tenacious friends who are making me get on the saddle this coming weekend. Another quick admin note: Sunday posts are near impossible, and doing them on Monday evenings seems like a great start to the week, so I’m shifting my due dates. Now on to the good stuff.
Somehow throughout the entire month of September, the whole gratitude part of this work didn’t really make any profound presence. I mean it helped, definitely, but it never walked up to me and slapped me in the face with a new kind of clarity like the others did at various points. Instead it just kind of sat in the background nodding its head and smiling, content to be a little gentle, grateful lamb of sweetness. But this week, gratitude was a lion—and not the sleepy, PBS sitting in the grass kind of lion. No, this cat roared and clawed something fierce.
I’ve changed the way I do this one. Instead of sitting down to quickly write down three things to be grateful for, only spending the 3 or 4 minutes it takes to think something up, I’ve been spreading them out throughout the day, finding something in the present to be grateful for when I notice it, and then noting it in my mind, collecting them until I get home. Much like the random act of kindness transitioned into a state of perceiving the world, this new way has done something similar so that now I’m always thinking about something I’m grateful for. I fear it’s making me painfully Polyanna-ish and really hope to maintain some wry skepticism of the world that I’m famous for in my own mind. I’ve always liked my angels rounded out with a little bit of monster.
Meditation was the only one of the five that really affected my dreams—very uncomfortable lucidity and never knowing if I was dreaming or waking. This weekend the gratitude lion used my dreams to roar some clarity into my soul hole, and it’s still echoing. I won’t go into the dream since dreams are usually only interesting to the dreamer, but it clearly pointed out to me that I should be, that I am, grateful for what I have. I’m always thinking about the next thing, the worrisome thing, or the thing I don’t have—this city is too expensive so I’m going to have to move soon; I’m almost 40 and still renting and have a roommate which means I haven’t grown up or dealt with issues that I don’t even know I have; I have a job that isn’t a writing career which means I’m a total failure at life. This dream showed me how grateful I am for all those things by taking them away from me, and the entire dream was spent desperately trying to get them all back – the city, the rented home, the roommate, the job. I woke up so happy and grateful, thanking everyone and everything that I found myself exactly where I’ve been all along. Sure there are things I don’t have, and that’s the stuff that ensures that I’m still reaching for things, still trying, still working, but I saw that what I do have has been getting the shaft, and I’m lucky to have it. My city, my home, my roommate, my job—they all provide me with a damn good life and the opportunity to keep making it better. So today I’m grateful for it all.