Grateful to be grateful

After a roller coaster of a year, I embraced the coming of 2009 as though it had magical powers to ring in the new by leaving the old behind. It’s never really gone, you know. I’ve come to realize that the bad things, the sad things, the discouraging things will never go away. That’s, as Frank Sinatra used to sing…life. I really believe that all the hurt and disappointment added to our cosmic soup has been put there by mankind; all of our misdeeds sprinkled liberally over the top, stirred down to float back up again. The only thing that changes the swill to something nourishing and palatable is how we season it. 

As dour and depressing as this may sound, it is really an affirmation. It’s the acknowledgement of the power of good over evil, of triumph over tragedy, of being grateful for the painful moments in life that test our mettle and make us examine our priorities and strengths. If you’re making lemonade when those proverbial lemons of life are being catapaulted off your noggin, you’re having a good day!

My water pipes are frozen as the deep freeze reaches Western New York and it’s darned inconvenient. It’s also going to last a few days while the sub-sero wind chills and snow assault us. Cold and cranky? Well, I wasn’t clinging to an icy airplane wing  in the frigid waters of the Hudson, thank you very much! Was there anybody on earth more grateful than those 156 passengers who had, moments before impact, braced themselves for the worst? Watching the endless footage of the rescue, we held our collective breath as the heros of the day swooped in to save the people on board. A lot of good ingredients were put back into our soup that day, huge quantities of bravery, compassion and gratitude. The triumph over tragedy fills us all with hope and strengthens the bonds of humanity. One just has to remember the feeling of strength and solidarity after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to be reminded that we humans are capable of much goodness and compassion. I just wish it didn’t take tragedy to get everyone working together.

Oh, there are acts of goodness and sacrifice going on every minute of every  day, not as newsworthy as a dramatic plane crash rescue. Volunteers have been walking  city streets in frigid temperatures, trying to get the homeless to seek shelter or at least to offer blankets, food and chairs to keep them off the frigid ground. Soup kitchens everywhere are being stretched to the limits and beyond by victims of the economy. It is those acts of charity that save us, you know, from ourselves. Mankind at its worst is contained by the collective goodness of mankind at its best.

This week was hard for those around me. Our friend lost her battle with cancer, just 44 and the kind of good person who should be around to see grandchildren and old age. My ten-year-old friend had his kidney and a cancerous tumor the size of a softball removed this week, and this is a critical time for him and his family. Friends share grief for Faith and concern for Mykel in teary phone calls and worried email and we are grateful to be a part of that human connection. Every burden shared is lightened and we are so very blessed when we are able to share the load.

Although I was not on board that plane in the Hudson, I am grateful to those who responded. Acts of heroism and kindness rescue us all, if only vicariously, from the tragedies of life. They restore our faith in mankind and ratchet up our social conscience. We cheer them on while assuring ourselves that we would jump right in the fray if we were in their place. Tragedy and grief unite us. Hopefully, they also inspire us to get out there to save someone else, in ways large and small.  I am proud of, and grateful for, those keeping watch over those in need. Let’s all “pay it forward’ every chance we get.


2 Responses to “Grateful to be grateful”

  1. Daniel Brenton Says:

    Julie —

    Great stuff. It’s good to see you back in the groove. (This one’s definitely in the next “Gratitude Watch.”)

    I just wish it didn’t take tragedy to get everyone working together.

    You and me both.

    All the best.

    — Daniel

  2. The Meaning of Existence (and all that) » Gratitude Watch - 2009-01-19 Says:

    […] “Grateful to be grateful,” some commentary about the personal cosmic soup we find ourselves in, and what we can do to make it better. […]

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