I was taking a walk this morning in a nearby public park when I came upon this scene. I thought of Robert Frost’s poem about coming upon a fork in the road and taking the path less traveled. Then I thought about the metaphor of the fork in the road and the choices we make in our lives. Take the path on the right and who knows where it will lead. The same can be said of the left. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Flip a coin.
Most of the time in my life I’ve made pretty good choices. They have usually been healthy choices that have lead to many blessings and spiritual growth. There was a time, however, when good judgment went out the window and I couldn’t make a good choice to save my ass. I made some very poor choices and those terrible decisions very nearly destroyed me. Who knew where that path would would take me? God knew but I sure didn’t. That path of addiction started out all bright and sunny but soon dipped into the forest primeval – dark, sinister and full of despair. Once in the quagmire, I had no more choices. The addiction took that from me. Fortunately for me, through the inky blackness of addiction, there was the tiniest pinhole of light and, following that light, I managed to crawl out of the great swamp.
For almost eight years I’ve been on the correct path of wholeness and spirituality. That path is laid out before me by God and I travel that road one step at a time, one day at a time. I have been blessed by many people I’ve met along the road who have encouraged me and assisted me (sometimes unknowingly) along the way. I am forever grateful for those tender mercies already shown me and those yet to come.
Today I have choices. As anyone in recovery can tell you, that’s a blessing.
So today I first chose to go left on this fine morning and was greeted by beauty.
The second time around I went right. It led to the same grove of flowering trees. Win win!
It is a cold Sunday afternoon. As I sit here the wind howls outside and drives the already single digit temperatures to below zero. A perfect time to reflect on gratitude.
All too easily the sordid, the ridiculous, the ugly and the dark can carry us away and swallow us up; sometimes it swallows us whole and we can feel like our soul is leaking. We lose sight of the beauty around us for the darker side of things sweeps us away like a flash flood, a veritable torrent, it seems. Before you know it you wind up miles down stream and completely off the map. I know, I’ve been there and it is not a fun place to be (more about that some other time). It took me a few years to get back to a healthy, whole relationship with God and with others and it was a painful journey at times. I’d like to think that I’m a better man for the journey but to be honest, I coast at times and slide down stream a bit. But only for a bit.
It was suggested to me many years ago by people who possess more wisdom than I do, that I periodically make a gratitude list as a way to keep from slipping down stream and going over the falls. The key is to give it some thought, some deep reflection. I find that making the list serves me well on several key points: it keeps me positive; it reminds me that I have much to appreciate in life; it causes me to be mindful of the beauty in everyday things and the beauty in these “common” things are almost imperceptible unless I look for it.
Ugliness, hatred, evil, darkness and fear seem to scream loud and flash in neon lights but beauty … beauty is more subtle. It whispers. It is often shrouded in mist. You have to be open to, present in the moment, it in order to see it’s magnificence in all it’s glory.
So, here are my five things for which I am grateful on this day:
- Francis Albert Sinatra – there is no one whose voice can turn a song, an arrangement, like The Voice. No one!
The Voice from an open source
- Baseball – the greatest game ever invented; it is poetry and ballet on grass, teamwork and also individualism when batter faces pitcher. Today marks the opening of Spring training camp and soon enough there will be cries of “Play ball!”
From an open source
- Language – as limiting as it is at times the ability to express ourselves, to try to be understood and to understand is priceless.
- Music – it’s a variation on language but oh how it touches parts of our inner selves – parts that we thought were impenetrable – and suddenly we are connected with others who are touched in the same way.
From open sources
- The cosmos – the magnificence and beauty of the universe … leaves me humble and in awe.
For a good read on the considered practice of mindfulness and appreciation of beauty (and the joy it brings) check out this little ditty: http://www.onbeing.org/blog/to-instruct-myself-over-and-over-in-joy/7296#comment-1628071