“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
I'm awake of sorts.
And, I've got a cup of coffee brewed and ready to drink.
I could stop at that point and say "Thank you" and that would be enough, but I think it's also worth remarking on:
1. I've got the day to look forward to, even if it's not exactly the role I would like to be doing — my time will come.
2. I'll get to say "good morning" and "I love you" to my family — even if it's by an electronic medium in the case of my two eldest daughters.
3. I'll get to eat food that I like that will sustain me throughout the day. (We're so lucky with the choices we now have, even if we can't always afford exactly the thing our heart desires.)
4. I've got my health — hell, even at age 52, I can still run, walk and lift weights.
5. I've got my friends and wider family that if I need them would always be there for me. I don't like to call on their help but when I've done so they've always stepped up to the plate.
6. I've got all my faculties. Reading is a miracle as well as writing and I've got more than enough books and supplies to last me a lifetime.
7. I live in a beautiful part of England, right next to Dartmoor and not far from the sea. I don't, as is often the way, make the most of them but they both nourish my soul when I immerse myself in their beauty.
8. Even though it's not London, there are, if I look hard enough, lots of wonderful things to do including lots of spiritually-nourishing immersives. (I'd love to do a course at Schumacher College but for now it will have to wait.)
9. I'm no longer working silly hours and that means I've got enough free time to do something purposeful with my life.
10. But, perhaps most of all, I've found an inner peace that keeps me grounded to the here and now.
The trouble is with any list it never does justice to the topic under discussion. Rather than trying to come up with 10 things I'm grateful for, I could have encapsulated them by saying that having had one brush with death and seen death up close and real, I'm grateful in a way words cannot express for just being here.
You see, it doesn't matter how awful it might sometimes be and/or appear, the fact that you can experience it is a minor miracle — and I know that sounds like an oxymoron but that's how it is to me.
Perhaps when you're in your formative years you don't appreciate any of this or the fragility of life but when you pass the half-century marker it suddenly seems real.
I appreciate my experience is just that but when you're overwhelmed by your situation, it's very easy to lose sight of even the smallest thing that might make us realise how sacred is the gift of life. I'm not dismissing Black Dog or other forms of clinically recognised depression, but when I feel myself falling into the abyss is the time I most need to remind myself of all that I've got and have become as a husband, father, friend and contemplative.
I hope you too can find a place in your heart to recognise the sanctity of life and everything else that fills you with a deep sense of gratitude.