I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.Steve Jobs, cofounder of Apple
I hesitate to even use this title. How can I–how dare I–even talk about gratitude now? It is certainly from a place of safety that I write, able to teach from home and be safe with my own kids and husband who works from home. First of all, I am thankful for those who are straight-up heroes–out there, risking health and safety to keep the rest of us safe.
It is too soon to even think of gratitude, right? Our bodies are grieving, and being sad/angry/mad/whatever–sometimes in waves of mere hours–is tiring. Some days we need to rest. Some days we need to move. Some days we need to apologize to those quarantined with us. And all days we need each other. And time with “each other,” events with “each other,” are the very things we’re all grieving.
What a weird time.
But gratitude’s rebellious power comes when we dare to mine for thanks in spaces that make us feel anything but grateful. I saw an Instagram post that has me thinking:
- What has the Corona Virus taken away from you today? (Grief)
- What has the Corona Virus not taken away from you today? (Awareness)
- What has the Corona Virus given you today? (Blessing)
That last one says blessing. . . and it makes me think gratitude. After the waves of grief, Martha Beck notes that our human brains and hearts will–sometimes after a LONG time of grieving–begin to ask, “What meaning can I make with this? What beauty is still happening in spite of, and maybe even because of all this?”
The Renaissance happened after a plague.
And yes, we’re still in the crazy midst of it all, but it gives me hope to be reminded that creativity has historically grown in the spaces opened up by grief. That doesn’t erase the grief or numb the pain, but it gives us a place to set our sights, a hope to hold. And when we dare to look for how Gratitude is looking for us–instead of just worrying ourselves into a tizzy–we will be surprised again and again by the Goodness that dares to sparkle through even the crummiest of days.
Recently, I tried to do our kids’ PE warm-up in our back yard. I say try because half way through I was doubled-over breathing heavily with my hand up, indicating to my eight-year-old daughter that I needed a break before the next double run down and back.
“It’s kind of funny how you can’t even do this as well as a kindergartener and a second grader,” she said matter-of-factly, not even out of breath. “I guess it makes sense though, since we practice every day, and you basically sit and walk and read books.”
Ahem. In my own defense, I did finish the “warm up,” albeit more slowly than my younger “classmates.” But she has a point. What we practice gets easier. How much are we working out our gratitude muscles in this all-too-weird season?
This P.E. warm-up story makes me smile–and a little sore days later–knowing that while this time is scary and unexpected and ever-changing, it is also a space for gratitude, something to practice again and again, even in times and spaces that make us feel anything but grateful.