Recently, I took a dear friend of mine to the Nashville airport. On the way there, traffic came to a standstill and then crawled, bumper to bumper, for several miles. Soon we found to our horror that there was a tragic accident on the eastbound lanes. Several white sheets lay on the ground; we could only assume the worst. Our hearts ached for all those involved. After dropping my friend off at the airport, I hung around town for a couple of hours hoping the traffic would clear up by the time I headed back. I was wrong. It took me an hour to drive 8.5 miles. Yes, I could have been really angry and upset that I had to wait in barely moving traffic for so long. But when I weighed this and the fact that someone died, someone lost their loved ones, and people’s lives were drastically changed forever, I knew what I was going through was nothing. No comparison. I was alive and well. I could feel thankful that the worst I had to do was to be delayed in getting home.
Another incident stands out in my mind that really brought the lesson home to me. Several years ago, I lived on Bon Air Mountain between Sparta and Crossville and I worked in Sparta. One day, my boss asked me to stay an extra half hour. After I left, I stopped to get my car washed. On the way through town, I hit every red light. I was tired and just wanted to get home. Except half-way up the mountain, the traffic was stopped. An officer was turning traffic around saying there was a really bad accident further up the road. It took me over an hour to get home, which normally should have taken me about five more minutes. Later, I found out that an infant was killed and the accident occurred where I would have turned at about the exact same moment I would have driven through there. If I had left work at the usual time, I could have either been involved in the accident or seen it happen.
This really taught me that delays can be a good thing. How many of us get irate because we are delayed for whatever reasons? Long lines in stores, longer than normal traffic drives, and other unexpected things that keep us from getting to where we’re going based on our own timelines? Those delays could be keeping us from harm.
Another great lesson I learned is to always keep things in perspective. It could always be worse. I think of all the people who are going through the most unbearable experiences and it’s only by fate that it’s not me or someone I love. Therefore, what I’m going through is perfectly tolerable, though slightly inconveniencing. I can handle the inconveniences when I consider the alternatives.
There are so many people in the world who are struggling with so many life challenges. When I see them and what they’re going through, I count my blessings. When I see someone who is homeless, I’m thankful I have a roof over my head. When I see someone who is starving, I’m thankful I have food to eat. When I see someone who has health issues, I’m thankful I have my health. I look at people in various parts of the world who have absolutely nothing, and I’m grateful I live in a country that has so much. If you think about it, I’m sure you can come up with your own. If you can’t find anything to be grateful for, just start with the basics and build from there. Can you walk, talk, see, hear, do you have a roof over your head, a warm bed to sleep in, food to eat, people who love you…? Being in a state of gratitude attracts more to be grateful for. Being thankful for everything you have can bring a peaceful state of mind. When we’re at peace, regardless of everything going on around us, we find that we can feel happier, healthier, and can face each new day with grace. We’ll also find whatever we’re looking for in life and then our perspective manifests as our reality.
I leave you with these two quotes… Willie Nelson said, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole world turned around.” And Rabbi Harold Kushner stated, “Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted–a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.”
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 13, 2014.