Man – a being in search of meaning.
You’re struggling, hustling, busting your ass to get – “Please just let me get to…!!” fill in the blank of your career, family, fitness, life, etc.
Then life happens and you fall short, fall down, fall out.
It hurts. Even when you’re on the path, it still hurts sometimes, inside. In you.
It makes you sweat, gasp for air.
It makes your heart beat so hard it’s going to burst from your chest – or stop completely.
You get dizzy, nauseous and light headed.
Sometimes it feels like you’re going to die.
But you never do.
It feels like time is ticking and the buzzer is about to go off, leaving you with… what?
What do you have to show for your time here? How have you spent it?
Let’s work our ass off some more and buy the latest car/HDTV/camera gear/editing software/house/bed/friends…
But none of this helps.
The need to feed this hole inside is ever present and can never be filled with things of this world.
Lying in bed the other night, I stared at the ceiling and thought of these things.
What’s missing when you feel this? How complicated our lives must be that even in the midst of our dreams we can feel our nightmares closing in.
Then a thought occurred to me: what if what’s missing is gratitude?
You’re grateful for what you have like most people, but do you honestly and consciously make time to dwell on it? Do you periodically reset your perspective to the previously been/possibly could be from the currently is?
Most likely, you have a general idea of being grateful for your life, just like you have a general idea that you have to breathe in and out and have your blood pump throughout your body – it more goes without saying.
I thought of how my life was before I became a photographer full-time, before I had my children, before I met my wife.
I thought of how my life could have been if I was left with nothing and no one.
Homeless, penniless, friendless.
Cold and wet and tired and hungry and alone – with no hope for anything else.
I let myself be swept away by this imaginary world, completely submerging myself in the painful emotions that accompanied it.
Then I brought myself back to reality, and just as waking from a nightmare, the swelling of joy and gratitude that I have for my life and everything and everyone in it was so great and so intense that it was almost painful in itself.
I looked around my room with new eyes; my loving and supportive wife sleeping next to me, our beautiful 3 month old son snoring in his crib, our fun-loving 2 year old son settling in his room down the hall.
Our bed was fit for royalty compared to the hard, cold and rocky ground I could be sleeping on.
Electricity and indoor plumbing were miraculous and even the paint on the walls seemed a luxury next to the home I might never have had.
The pain of need was replaced by the pain of joy, the filling of the hole inside and feeding the need not with my own soul but with a never ending source of gratitude and thankfulness and humility.
We’re all human – remember that.
We’re all looking for something.
We started off with gratitude, even if you don’t remember. It was so natural and you were so young there wasn’t a word for it yet.
It was when you were the real you ALL THE TIME. Loving freely, sharing openly, living honestly. Fearless.
But then you were taught that this wasn’t enough. Weird eh?
You needed to have, and to have you needed to work, and if you worked more you could have more.
And more, and more, and more, and more…. see where this is going?
Eventually it became an addiction and now we don’t know what to do with ourselves.
Go back to gratitude, if nothing else.
Feel the softness and comfort of your couch when you watch tv; acknowledge the simple ease in which you can put together your next meal; realize how much free time you actually have – if you doubt this, then look at how many hours/week you watch tv – basically sitting and staring at a big light.
Then remember how easily you might have had no place to rest your body.
How easily you might have had to scrape by a small bite to eat from the garbage – never knowing when you’ll eat again. Or when your children will…
Remember all the people in your life that help make it the way it is instead of the cold nightmare of what it may have been.
Be thankful, be grateful and the real you will come out to do what really needs to be done in your life.
The need will be sated, the hunger abated, the whole filled, the pain relieved, the fear banished and living unobstructed.
And don’t do this for New Year’s, do it every day.
Do it for life.
Do it for everyone who’s been there.
Do it for the real you; and then you will be….