Gratitude - Excerpt from "Before I Let You Go: Stories for My Grown Son"

I want to share a few pieces of my new book, Before I Let You Go, with all of you over the next few weeks. There is no better way to kick off the excerpts than with one about gratitude. Enjoy!

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Cody, age 21. Me, age 44.

Today is just an ordinary day like any other ordinary day. I am sitting here in the early morning light drinking my coffee. But wait, I think, I am sitting here in a body that can bend and touch and move! I am not only drinking this comforting liquid, I can feel it warming my insides! How incredible it is now that I notice Dad. I am but centimetres away from another living being who is breathing and communing with me, whose heart is beating like mine, who is thinking their thoughts and feeling their feelings right there beside me! I see the glow of the early morning light. The sun is rising in the sky! The day is breaking! How magnificent to have eyes! How astonishing it is to be alive! I want to tell everyone about the miracle of life but there just aren’t any words.

This sensation is too powerful to share with anyone. It is beyond expression and would lose its strength in trying to speak it out loud. It feels like a train barreling through my chest and it sends rhythmic vibrations through my veins. It is a swelling up of emotion so powerful that it brings tears to my eyes. I feel as though I need to run around and tell people how I am feeling, share some amazing secret, or burst into dance or song. It is simply gratitude, but on a level that is all-encompassing. This doesn’t happen to me often, I wish it did, but it is so memorable that I know long after it has stopped it will still be close enough to feel. Why did it come to me now while I am drinking a coffee like I have countless other mornings? Can I make it come again? It is this gratitude that I need in my mundane life. This is what makes my average life special, my journey extraordinary, and my life more abundant. 

I have spent some of my years chasing things. More money, a better title, a bigger house, a  life in a city, and when I achieved all those things, I realized there were still other things I didn’t have. There will always be other things. Even if I were one of the richest people in the world, there would still be things I didn't possess and things I still wanted. I am not fully practiced at this, but I am now focusing more on the things I do have, the experiences I have gone through, and the abundance that does surround me.

It is arrogant of me to think I am lacking. I probably have more than the six billion other people on the planet do, just because I was born in Canada. But gratitude can be tough to cultivate. Our culture sends us messages every day that we are still lacking in something. I could be more beautiful, have more luxury, and travel to more places. There is no TV channel playing all the things I do have. This is the channel I need to grow in my own mind; build a reel of the gifts that I already possess. My reel would include a loving husband, a family that instilled a strong work ethic in me, friends that are available anytime I need them, a safe country, a house to live in, abundant food, and sufficient money. 

My average life is really not so average when I list all of these things. There is a richness in the recognition of my blessings, I just don't always see it. I spend many days planning my business, working through to-do lists, and imagining the future. Each of these activities is a focus on what is yet to be done, experienced, and taken care of. I don't dedicate enough time to things I have accomplished, milestones I have experienced, and gifts I have been given. 

I want to stay here in this moment with the rush of emotion. I want to remember this and conjure it up again and again and share what I can of it with my loved ones. Gratitude is a powerful force and changes how I see everything.