I have figured out that there are at least two kinds of gratitude. Like Patty and Cathy on the old "Patty Duke Show" both great girls but one clearly had a little more substance. I reiterate, both are great girls, but these days "hot dogs don't make me lose control".
There is "COMPARISON GRATITUDE". All the do gooders that flood the missions on Thanksgiving and Christmas that wouldn't dare set foot inside the mission walls during the year, get "Comparison Gratitude". It is like a contact high. It would be hard not to stand next to someone, for most folks anyway, who was missing legs and not think, "Gee, I'm glad I had to working legs". For whatever reasons , they are incapable of being grateful for those legs the rest of the year.
"Comparison Gratitude" works from the outside, to the inside. It provides temporary short form relief of self consumption.
What I have found and what has profoundly transformed my life, my spirit and my thinking is the way to produce gratitude, from the inside, to the outside. Growing up we had a pond down in the bottom land that was fed by natural springs. It never stagnated and turned to green thick soup like the other ponds around because it had a never ending force of life trickling into it at all time.
I came to Gratitude Springs, the hardest way possible. I lived the life of a hopeless dead man for decades. I had no tricking spring to refresh, revive or awaken my hopeless spirit. The story is long about what happened to change that, but I count myself the luckiest bastard on the planet because I got to return from the dead.
I've mentioned one of my favorite people before named Kay. She was terribly terribly ill and it didn't look like they were going to figure out what was wrong with her before she took exit. She said she promised if she ever felt well again, if she ever could move without restriction she was going to live at full force. She recovered and she lives and clocks in most days around 75 miles per hour. I can't keep up with her.
There is a color, shade, grade and level of thankfulness that permeates the cellular structures of humans when we are stripped down to raw spirit by circumstances or illness. The moment I realized I had nothing including any reason to go on or to hope, I got everything. A door opened and a stream flowed and I saw life as beautiful party that I was so happy and thrilled to still be invited to. Suddenly everything was something to be grateful for, full bodied, inside to the outside gratitude.
When I can't decide what I want to eat, I remember there are mothers on the planet that search all day, ALL DAY to find enough food to keep her children alive for just one more day. I'm aware of the bitter irony of my needs.
When I go to shower, I am often keenly aware of the people who have to be assisted or completely washed by another person.
I see the lost souls of Highway 80 walkers, with stained coats and plastic bag suitcases and I thank God, not that I have a place that's climate controlled and comfortable, but I thank God because I don't wander highways with no where to go to at all. I know the devastation of not belonging anywhere and I see it on the faces that can't make eye contact and it crushes my heart..
The person closest to me on the planet my whole life has lost both her parents and it makes me keenly aware that mine are only here on loan. I have the opportunity to call both mine up and just say hello, any time I want to and I do. I make those calls and the dinners with them , not because i particular need to see them but because they need to see me. I'm very thankful they get to witness me up and functioning in life. I accept them as they are today mainly because I got to the place I accepted myself.
Full on, spiritual and cellular gratitude to me is experience the breath of the god as I understand it. When I don't stop to think that every thing around me, everything thing I see and touch, every seed and every breeze, would have been missed by me had I not decided it was "time to get to living" I see the wasted opportunities.
My friend Kay and I, and millions of others benefit from being in a very exclusive club, we faced death and chose life. We are the bonded like those people who escaped Titanic in life boats. A feeling of overwhelming, indescribable joy to be present, alive and invited to the party, for me came the hard way. It made me work for it and I had to face the darkest dark before I turned and ran to the side of light.
I was fascinated last week by clusters of ladybugs on the side of the van at work. I'd never seen more than a couple. There were 30 or more. I was delighted in my spirit the way a child gets delighted the first time it sees the lights on the Christmas tree. I'm so full body, full spirit thankful that I have experienced "WONDERMENT" as an adult. I know what to look for and work for now.
I felt the humbling spirit of gratitude breath straight through me as I watched to polka dotted ladies move and take flight. It passed through all my mass and my essence and in it's trail it left gratitude. Simple beautiful, inside to the outside thankfulness to be here, to have one more moment to embody with my heart and soul. The most effective and complete prayer there ever was written: