Ten Thousand Days

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 427)

October 20, 2015
Photo: Leonie Wise

Photo: Leonie Wise

I have decided to take a few minutes today again to reflect on my bounty.  Yesterday I was irritable and angry and just generally a witch. I haven’t felt like that in a long while and it was not pleasant – for me or for those around me. Yes, there is a lot going on in my life and a lot of turmoil but that is exactly when we need to embrace our practices. Along with a cold, I am fighting off an emotional flu. I was just saying to a friend that our capacity for suffering is, to a large extent, innate but that our capacity for joy is largely learned. I remember reading that, somewhere. Actually, the finding was that negative thinking is determined by birth but our capacity for positivity can be stretched with practice. Clearly, practice is important, for me.

I went to the grocery store late last night in my jet lagged state and the experience was annoying. Conveyor belts broken, produce sacks out of stock etc etc. I became irritable. But let’s look at the flip side. I am middle class. I have been educated with many elites and I know a few who are genuinely poor. It is often the poor who are most grateful. I learned that lesson on my first trip to India.

Although I struggled as a writer, yogi and actor in New York, I had jobs that enabled me to pay rent and put food on the table. I was rich, in the grand scheme of things. By North American standards, I was struggling, but I started saving my change from every dollar and putting it away in a little envelope in my lingerie drawer. Once I had a dollar I would swap it and pretty soon I had 700 dollars – the amount you can put into a postal money order and nearly the 1,000 dollars it took to put a girl through high quality boarding school in India. I started taking my lunches and putting the couple of dollars aside that I would have spent on lunch and it really wasn’t long before I had the scholarship money.

And that is how I started my charity to educate young, abandoned girls, in India. From the change from my morning 50 cent cup of coffee, I was able to make a difference. I never would have done it if it hadn’t been for the experience of real poverty, in India.

I am grateful for the gift of perspective that travel has afforded me. I am grateful for the encouragement of my friend Donna Friedman to try to make a difference. And, I am grateful that I have the luxury of plentiful food supply and relatively efficient food delivery systems. I was able to come home with carrots, butternut squash, cabbage, broccoli, pears, beans, nuts, apples, onions, sweet potatoes, leeks, bananas, lentils, rice, potatoes, tomatoes, eggs and chicken. I bought two convenience foods and a little chocolate but my pantry is full of good, nutritious food and I don’t have to worry about my next meal or meals at all, for a few weeks. I have a warm room, warm clothes, and people I love, and people from whom I gain inspiration, both near and far. I am very blessed.

As I have always said, service need not be such big things. Today my service was giving my flatmate an impromptu coaching session and teaching hermsome meditation techniques. This could be a small act of service, but as these things go, the ripples we create in others lives by small acts can be phenomenal.  If you have meditated, you will know the difference it makes in your life – if it is practiced.

It was a joy this morning to awaken from yesterday’s funk to sunshine and blue skies. It has been gloomy in London for over a week and that has impacted upon my mood. As soon as I finish writing this, I will go out and enjoy some of it.

I had a strange experience of Oneness yesterday. There is someone who passed through my life, recently, who had a disproportionate impact on my thinking for the amount of time we spent together. I have been observing and unpacking this experience, wondering at my emotions, responses and the symbolic meaning in it all. Just as I was coming to a point of being able to tie it up with a bow, a deeper meaning revealed itself when I suddenly saw a resemblance between that person and another person from an earlier time in my life. The physical resemblance is striking, but there are so many parallels.

That former person is one to whom I owe a great karmic debt.  A long ago time is suddenly consciously current, and two important people in my life are somehow linked in this cosmic spin. And here, I stand at the centre of this karmic wheel, blessed with another opportunity, in this lifetime, to do things differently.

Then becomes Now and many Futures become possible.

Photo: Michael Hall

Photo: Michael Hall

And so, it remains for me to ask you:

For what are you grateful, today?

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