As Good As It Gets

A quote on gratitude by Thornton Wilder,

I am not in the business of telling people what to do. On my journey, people have told me, if I only do x, y will occur.

In the blog,  I’ve alluded to my ex-wife’s perception that if I lost weight and got a job I’d be much happier. Unfortunately, in the depths of my depression, the mere act of answering my phone seemed Herculean. Try explaining that to a super-woman, mother of three, extraordinarily successful corporate litigator.

People rarely understood the roadblocks that stalled my journey. What appeared to be”simple” solutions to them, were not. Hence, the reason I strive for a voice that focused on my perceptions, hopefully, with nary a single generalization.

I’m going to break my rule.

Try savoring something. Try taking a pause and find something to appreciate. If you’re so tied up in knots that even savoring a moment is more than you can imagine, that’s okay too. Just think about it for now, and if the opportunity arises, go for it.

I was walking in the rain two days ago. Gloomy, not-particularly-cold rain, Washington DC awash in tears over the peaceful-yet-painful transition of power. (The last sentence is an example of the literary device, the “Pathetic Fallacy.” Read my previous post on the subject here. Or not.)

I was walking, thinking about how miserable the rain made me feel. Then I remembered my Facebook memory feed. A year ago, the same day, a blizzard paralyzed the nation’s capital. With that perspective I savored the fact that it was only rain.

A few weeks ago I left my cellophone on the Metro bus. I realized I did so immediately after the bus pulled away from the stop. Thank heavens. Within a minute I flagged a cab. And then I got to say something I’ve only dreamed of saying my entire life, “Follow that car!” The cabbie was confused and I grudgingly acknowledged, I meant, “follow that bus.”

After three or four lights we got ahead of the bus. I hopped out of the cab, five dollars poorer, and boarded the bus. “Hey, did anyone turn in…” before I could finish my sentence the smiling bus driver handed me my phone.

I crossed the street and walked home, savoring a moment that could have turned out very differently.

Yesterday, I found a wallet, at the coffee shop where I write, in the restroom. It was just sitting there, fat with credit cards, fat with cash. I looked at the driver’s license and then put the bulging wallet in my pocket.

I didn’t see the owner so I turned it over to the manager. I watched her walk around and find the owner. The manager pointed to me and owner nodded, sort of appreciatively. I guess.

And then I stewed. I actually was irked that the reunited owner had not shown enough appreciation for my act.

And then I stewed over the fact I had stewed over feeling under-appreciated.

And then I reminded myself how someone handed the bus driver an iPhone a few weeks ago and I never had a chance to profusely thank the person. That acknowledgement enabled me to savor the fact I did “the right thing.” Ultimately, being true to yourself is as good as it gets. And that’s worth savoring.

Stay in touch. Connect.

P.S.  A special note  to someone for reminding me how much I enjoy the blog.

P.P.S. Yeah, I coulda done a clip from As Good As It Gets but that would have been predictable.

6 thoughts on “As Good As It Gets

  1. Good post. It may be hard for you or me to understand, but I’ve learned from the counseling I’ve done: Some people truly have no concept, respect or regard for other people’s time, effort or good intentions. It’s just not part of their thinking, not something they have ever learned or considered. Doesn’t mean they are a bad person, but just not attuned to certain societal norms of behavior you may have been indoctrinated with. Your last line is right. Focus your rewards on your own internal compass of how you want to be in the world and your belief system of what is right. When you start looking for validation from external sources, you may get it, but just as often will be disappointed and resentful. Easy to say, harder to live it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a similar experience a couple of days ago. A fellow classmate in my step aerobics class came in late and hastily set up her step on the risers. She wasn’t aware that she hadn’t put it together—it was an accident waiting to happen. I stopped doing the step routine to tell her about the step and adjust it for her so it was safe. Not one word of acknowledgment, not even a smile. But—-whereas a short time ago, I would have been annoyed/angry that she didn’t appreciate my thoughtfulness (not enough to acknowledge it, anyway), loving-kindness meditation and my own gratitude practice just made me feel compassion for her and her lack of gratitude. I truly believe that being grateful for little things, even a stranger’s kindness in making sure that someone else is safe and won’t get injured when trying to exercise, is cumulative and leads to a feeling of happiness/well-being. If someone isn’t mindful/appreciative of even little things that add joy/health/safety to their lives, they are the one experiencing the lack, not me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well said! Your perspective touches on something I think Pema Chodron said, which I paraphrase, when we get angry, we’re not angry with the other person but how we react to that person.

        Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

        Best,

        Jon

        Like

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