When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow. —Shauna Niequist
The funny thing about the idyllic picture above (and pretty much every beautiful picture on the Internet) is that it doesn’t tell the whole story. There’s always something cropped out or some detail that we can’t see when we’re scrolling and comparing our hum-drum existence to the Pinterest-worthy lives of everyone else.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved our New Hampshire trip. I hiked places where my grandfather and mother grew up, and it was beautiful.
At one point on the scrabble (which is basically a pile of rocks that someone decided was a trail) my inner monologue got all dark and twisty, like it does some times.
“Stupid rocks. Stupid stupid rocks. Who ever knew there could be so many rocks? I think this is worse than childbirth. I actually would prefer to be giving birth to a human from my nether-regions right now. I want to stop. I want to rest. I cannot stop. I cannot rest. Must get to campsite. We cannot go back. So many rocks. Stupid stupid rocks.”
If you are from the mountains, you’re probably having a good chuckle right about now about us flat-landers. And rightfully so. We are humbled, and your mountains are hard core. I actually fell on them and cut my hand and hurt my pride. I am no longer the same. You win.
While the mountain was beating up my body and I was mentally beating up my psyche, one of the gals in my party–who is much heartier in body and spirit than I–says, “Look at the lichen on these rocks. Isn’t it beautiful?”
Apparently she and I were on two very different hikes.
And sometimes that’s how I feel about life. I know that life is beautiful and amazing all around me, but some days I cannot see it. Buchner says it best, “Here is life. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
It’s not always that we’re fearful. Sometimes just getting through is hard enough.
In New Hampshire they have these big trees growing on boulders that know what I’m talking about. It’s like there’s no dirt there and yet they somehow keep on growing. They stretch and contort and find a way to keep living in spite of the fact that they really should just give up because they’re being ridiculous. But they don’t just get by, they grow big.
Some days in the last few months have been pretty rocky (hence the no writing here), but I want to keep reaching for soil, keep hoping. Keep noticing that C has started kindergarten and she is soooo straight-up kindergarten material. Notice that O is potty trained. Notice that the mornings are getting crisp like fall and Husker football. Notice and say thanks. It’s easier to walk by it all. Easier to get all dark and twisty, mentally cussing at the rocks. And sometimes you just hate the rocks and get through. The getting through is something too. But I think part of the why we’re here–even for what seems like too short a time sometimes–is to notice. Notice each other. Notice the lichen. Notice the lichen and point it out for someone who can’t see it for themselves.
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” Marcus Aurelius
Gratitude Dare: Keep something visible around you (a little sketch, a gift from a child, a leaf you found outside, a rock from a hike) to remind you about your habit of gratitude. Try to notice it every day.