I am staying for some time at a country house on my own.
I enjoy being here enormously. The greenery, the silence, the openness.
I recently discovered a fig tree, full of figs ready to eat.
I have made it like a little habit to go very early in the morning and pick up some of them.
Today when I went there I saw that there were so many more figs than I could ever eat, that for a moment I felt that with this tree I could eat figs forever!
But then, immediately, I thought that of course that was not true.
Very soon, too soon, the figs will end (or I will return home) and there will not be any more until next year.
I clearly saw that as plenty as they were now, very soon there will be none at all!
And in that moment, with that vision in mind, I felt truly grateful to have some now.
It is exactly the same with our lives.
We need to acquire, or re-acquire, a sense of gratefulness for our own lives. More or less around our 5th or 6th birthday we lose contact with how wonderful it is to be alive and we start taking things, literally everything, for granted. And not only that, but we also start to demand things from the world, expect that certain things SHOULD happen to us, SHOULD come to us and we completely forget about the possibility to be grateful for ‘what is’ and for the very small things of everyday life.
We need to practice being aware of the miraculous nature of our own existence.
Like a little remembrance or like a little recognition that, for example, we have hands that can grasp or feet that can support us. It is quite amazing!
We need to reconnect with how much we have. We can walk, we can breathe, we can taste, we can hear, we can see colors; isn’t it amazing that we can see at all?
Just like with the figs, very soon, too soon, all these things will not be here any more…
Generally we are not grateful for anything, until we lose what we have.
What happens to us adults is that we become grey, in the sense that we lose the capacity to be surprised by how amazing is to exist, to be alive, to experience.
Stop for a moment and feel that aliveness: you are, you exist…isn’t this amazing?!
This is one reason why being distracted is a ’sin’. Not sin in a religious sense that we will go to hell, but sin in the original sense of the word which is “missing the mark”1. Basically, when you shoot at a target with an arrow and you miss the center, you sin, you miss the mark. In this sense, when we are distracted, we miss the possibility to be grateful.
To be grateful is, at least as a beginning practice2, an activity of the mind: we need to think about how amazing is to have what we have, how rare and special is to be able to see, to smell, to have the capacity to touch and feel, to simply be alive.
There are so many things to be amazed for! And if we do it, life is not grey but full of colors. Being grateful is like the ABC of a better life, the opening of a door which will allow so many other possibilities to come.
Being grateful can become a beautiful practice, one that depends on the availability of the mind. The more distracted we are, the least possibilities we have, but the more quiet, open and at peace the mind is, the more chances we have.
As Albert Einstein said: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
1 See the note About Sin in my book About Presence – A Journey into Ourselves. Page 235
2 When we awaken to our true nature, to what we really are, gratefulness is not a practice any more but it simply becomes the way things are.