Don’t Take This The Wrong Way, But . . .
What’ll you miss most when you’re dead? Radical Gratitude, day ten.
Think of yourself as dead. Temporarily. I’ll explain why in a minute.
Now that I’m 1/3 of the way into my 30-day Radical Gratitude self-challenge, in which I commit to writing daily about something I discover in everyday life that I recognize as miraculous and worthy of appreciation, the obvious is becoming clear to me. Maybe it is to you already, but I’m going to share with you my small revelation . . .
Pretty much everything is a miracle, if you think about it.
Your own life, for instance. The very unlikelihood of your existence — out of all the potential couplings in the entire world, two people with a particular constellation of genetic attributes had to find one another and, well, combine. And out of their zillions of possible combinations, one particular spermatozoon had to infiltrate that month’s egg — at precisely the right time — resulting in the potential that eventually, against all odds, became you.
And here you are, on the only planet we know for sure supports life as we understand it, tiny and vulnerable and whizzing around in a solar system inside a galaxy that’s part of a universe so vast and mysterious I can’t begin to get my head around it, and I’ll bet you can’t either.
But life, as we experience it, is very daily.
You have to eat, and work, and make left turns against the traffic light, and get your teeth cleaned and pay taxes. Between laundry and getting the kids to school and dealing with the cable company, there is often little time left for wonder.
Daily life is also loud, both literally and metaphorically. If you’re like most people, you’re barraged from the moment you wake up until you lay your head down, and maybe after that, by constant messages and demands and exhortations. Social media, regular media, cable news, phone calls, texts, email. It’s endless.
These days it is anyway, and it’s not likely to change unless we really goof up and bring about the apocalypse and plunge what’s left of ourselves back into a pre-industrial environment where we’re once more, out of necessity, intimately connected to the rhythms and constraints of nature. And then we’ll have to start all over again.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Assuming we avoid heading over a collective cliff, you and I are here on Earth, getting on with making a living and cleaning out the gutters and figuring out what to do about the holidays this year. Just getting through the day takes a whole lot of our attention and energy, right?
It’s no wonder we lose sight of the miracle of life; we’re too busy living it.
So try this as an exercise. Pretend that the rare and unique event that is your life has come to its natural conclusion. You’re done, my friend. You’ve bought the farm, bitten the dust, cashed in your chips.
Imagine that you can now regard your recent earthly experience from your serene, nonphysical remove. Maybe you’re perched somewhere in the etheric realm, observing the world as it spins along like a carnival ride from which you’ve disembarked.
You’re now beyond the reach of pain and need and deadlines (pardon the pun). But looking down, or back, what do you miss about earthly life?
Your loved ones, of course, if they’re still kicking. But you know you’ll reconnect with them in time, and since time isn’t even really a thing where you are, that’s not a concern.
If you could revisit the world for a day or a week, what would you cherish?
Ice cream? Dogs? The smell of newly mown grass? The feel of warm sand between your toes? How about a rainy night, or slipping into a warm bed in your clean pj’s?
I could go on with the suggestions, but you know best what would make your heart swell. The point is, these are all small, momentary, familiar things.
Taken together, they are the dance of the miraculous that surrounds you, moment by moment, in your ordinary, daily, experience.
Okay, snap out of it. Back to Earth.
You’re alive again, back in your own skin, warts and all, with all the chores and obligations and problems you had before we began this little exercise. You still have to get the car smogged and dinner on the table.
But now you’re aware that you’re surrounded by wonders. All. The. Time.
Pretty amazing, don’t you think?
Check out my other posts this month as I explore radical gratitude, in a challenge to find the miraculous hidden in the everyday. If you feel inspired to join me, by all means, write on!