It’s a gift even to have a feeling that life is a gift. There are so many elements in our environment that cause dismay and so many unresolved conflicts in our typical psychological make-ups that generate confusion and frustration, that the capacity to feel gratitude may be a fleeting perception, confined to a particular activity or experience.
What allows a perception of appreciation and gratitude to arise? Good fortune in the whirling slot machine of life? Finding a path that provides a sense that our efforts mean something in a larger sphere than our individual scrambles from day-to-day?
Anyone who finds themselves being rescued from the sloughs of despond, from the boredom of routines whose purposes we can no long recall, or the hollow rewards of achievements that mean little 24 hours later–is bound to accord a special status to whatever we feel has delivered us.
It is as if we are gardeners, planting in the fields of our daily lives, and we repeat whatever seems to have led to beneficial harvests in the past.
Family, friendships, livelihood, spiritual practices, religious community, creative pastimes—we cultivate each separately and try to find a sense of wholeness connecting them within our lived lives.
But better than the partial, short-lived rewards of particular outcomes is an unaccountable feeling which allows us to appreciate the sheer fact of being alive.
Perhaps the living pulse that runs through the network of connections which makes up our life on Earth, and which allows us to fathom a greater, unifying wholeness, is gratitude.