on gratitude and empathy

for me, being grateful is to acknowledge that all this wonderousness, all this beauty that I have in my life is a gift, a lucky boon granted to me whether I deserved it or not. 

(take it from the other side of infertility, it's a miracle any of us were born, much less conceived.)

to be grateful is to say, yes, this life is mine and I am thankful. full stop. 

(even for that infertility.)

because that pain brought me to this day. this moment. which is the only moment. 

(without that particular pain, there would have been other pain, and a different now. which I would theoretically also be grateful for. but here I am, now. grateful for my particular pain. it was painful, but it has brought me here. infertility and a miscarriage and the horror of staring at a gun pointed at my head. who else could I be, but me?)

can we achieve this level of gratitude without also experiencing the pain and horror that life can bring? 

more to the point, can we live any real amount of life without experiencing pain? 

(at one point in today's Rosh Hashanah service, someone asked all of us who had experienced sadness or grief to stand up. I'm pretty sure the only people who did not stand were those who could not, physically. or those who didn't understand the question.)

to be grateful, despite the pain of life, is to say, life is precious. 

to be grateful, after experiencing pain (and seeing that every other human is in the same boat) is to know that we're in this together. when you offer hugs to me and I am grateful for that moment, it gives me a reason to offer hugs to someone else. 

(starting a gratitude chain.)

to be grateful brings empathetic awareness of all that we need to be grateful for. for hugs and texts and calls. for gifts. for the people in our lives and the people in their lives (and so on). 

to be grateful, truly grateful, is to start to see our interdependence. 

to be grateful is to start to understand: your life is also precious and that you deserve the miracle of it no more than (and no less than) I do. 

gratitude leading to empathy leading to gratitude leading to empathy.