Gratitude Amid Darkness
In the three weeks since the Presidential inauguration, I have felt every emotion you have felt, from anger to sadness, from powerlessness to dismay. I have tried many of my most useful coaching tools, including meditation, walking outdoors, stretching, and writing, and they have helped, but I couldn’t completely shake this feeling of darkness. Then last week it shifted, I feel much better, and I want to share with you the one tool that always works: gratitude. I am grateful, not for the ongoing dismantling of our democracy, but for my ability to act. I have a voice and the opportunity to use it. I have a healthy body that makes it easy for me to march and protest. I have a flexible schedule that permits me to sign petitions, write letters and make phone calls in the middle of the work day. I have terrific elected leaders at the state and federal levels that represent me well. What I have are the tools to oppose hate and destruction, and for that I am grateful.
I am grateful, not for the discrimination and lies spewing forth, but for my network of support. I have a personal life that supports my political and social activities. My loved ones – both family and friends – are the foundation for my courage and chutzpah. All my needs are met, including a warm home, healthcare (for now) and plenty of nourishing food. What I have is the infrastructure to oppose hate and destruction, and for that I am grateful.
I live in paradise compared to my Eastern European ancestors of only a couple of generations ago. The fortunate ones somehow made their way to the United States. The unfortunate ones were killed for the crime of being Jewish. They had no voice, no ability to protest, nor anyone to advocate for them. My family is just like those today who are fleeing the violence of their homelands.
I urge you to practice gratitude until it becomes a way of life. It is as much a practice as meditation, exercise, or the everyday activities of brushing your teeth and showering. This doesn’t mean we smile all day long or sing kumbaya every evening. It doesn’t mean we won’t have our moments of yelling at the TV or feeling our blood pressure rise as we read the morning newspaper. It just means we have a place to return to, a place of gratitude, where we rest and refuel.
I’ll look forward to seeing you at the next march, in the halls of State Houses and Congress, or at the next organizing meeting. Onward.