Gratitude – When It’s No Longer Gratitude

In light of publishing another book – The Scientist’s Dilemma – I’m a thankful guy these days. I’ve been really busy this year and for all the right reasons. For one, I got married. That was a huge life change and a good one. My wife will even vouch for that. For two, I took on a new vocation that had less travel and more time for my writing. That was a HUGE positive. And for three, I finished several short stories and rough drafts that I intend to launch at some point in 2015 and beyond. So overall, 2014 has been a major transitional period in my life and I’m quite grateful for all I’ve come through. But, that’s only the good stuff and what most people will see at the surface as long as I let them.

I’m someone that can get down easily. I lean more towards optimism in hard times but whenever I’m continually pelted with setback after setback, I begin to wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something. It’s not that I’m weak-willed; I just know that when something doesn’t work, you don’t keep pushing like some day the load will magically become lighter. Life just doesn’t work that way. Whatever you’re pressing into – job, career, story, relationship, etc. – that won’t change very much. But you, as a person, certainly can. And what you change, ultimately affects the thing that doesn’t.

Take a person’s perspective, for instance. Many years ago, I thought I had the best ideas so I wanted to write them all and get them published right away. No rite of passage, no need for editing, no need for anyone, really. I just thought I “had it together.” So, I waited. And I waited some more. And I waited like something might eventually break and I’d find time, energy, or resources to get my book ideas off the ground. In hindsight, that was remarkably foolish thinking, but when I decided to take action, I was still in the thinking that things would be easy.

Well, they weren’t. Not at all.

I think this is when we grow as individuals the most. Not when things are handed to us, but when we see something held out before us and we carve a path to get to the other side. It all sounds so simple – and ultimately, it is – but the path within the process is never so simple. Every person’s journey is unique and what trials await him or her is also unique. But, once we get to the other side of that hard struggle, what is our perspective? Do we feel cheated by the test that was given? That we were stolen of our time? Or do we look back on what we’ve done and see it as a triumph; incapable of giving all the glory to ourselves because we know we didn’t get there completely on our own.

Even if I do feel cheated by something or if I feel like I was wronged, what good might it do for me once the struggle is over? The answer is: none. But, if I maintain that entitled sense of bitterness, then I will never understand the joy I’m meant for. And I will probably be most oblivious to the next path I’m supposed to take.

As a writer – or anyone, really – that’s not a place you want to find yourself. You want to be looking back on hard times and be grateful for having had them. I’m not a fan of a stagnated life. We all need challenges to make ourselves stronger, but we must also crave the challenge before it’s upon us. Prepare for it. Ready ourselves for it. Because we know it’s coming and that should be exciting and something to be grateful about once it’s over.

 

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