This I Believe

Juanzetta - Birmingham, Alabama
Entered on December 29, 2007
Age Group: 65+
Themes: gratitude


I believe in gratitude as my framework for life and its experiences. As the Buddhists believe, for whatever experience life brings, the only prayer is “Thank You.” When the experience is bad and I have made it through, I feel gratitude for the strength I have been given. When the experience is pleasant and easy, the gratitude is for the joy I feel. Life is to be lived and experienced to the fullest. I did not come to this state of mind until late in life. But, the experiences of 2006 set me on a search to find the authority of my life.

Having decided to move from a house to a condo, and having found the condo of my dreams, I found myself caught in a real estate nightmare, i.e., 3 mortgages at the same time. You see, I had found the place where I wanted to spend the remaining years of my life. I had said to my real estate agents, “I need sunsets in my life, so find me a place with a view of sunsets.” He did—-2 days later. I bid on it and waited for my current house to sell. Three weeks later, someone else offered cash for “my dream condo.” With eyes wide open, I walked into the situation of 3 mortgages.

This went on for 9 months during which many emotions ensued. Each month, I watched with true wonder as the needed extra money seemed to appear magically in my bank account. But, even with this miracle, I fought panic. However, each time this house of cards in which I was living threathened to fall, another beautiful sunset would occur and all I could say was “Thank You! Thank you even if lose it in the end. Thank you for the glorious sunsets.”

The symbol of the nine months was not lost on me. When it was over, I knew I had given birth to a new me—a less cautious me that could embrace deep uncertainty and still feel gratitude for the experience. I thought I might have gotten glimpses of this me in the past. So, I set about reviewing my life in detail to discover what had been its principal authority. I could remember many times of fear and despair– a legacy from my parents who had lived through the depression of the 1930s. But, upon deep reflection, it was wonderful to discover that the authority truly had been gratitude for most of my 65 years. The deep gratitude is more a part of the years after age 50, but it was there in the early years also.

So, for however many years I have left in this life, I now know that I can live it in a gratitude that is profoundly deep and a true reflection of the real me. Saying “Thank You” is being willing to open to the experience and truly live life. As the wonderful Joseph Campbell told Bill Moyers many years ago:

All of this as it is, is as it has to be and it is a manifestation of the Eternal presence in the world. Pain is a part of there being a world at all. So participate in the game and do the best you can–decently.

I can only add to that, “And, try to do it with gratitude!” This I believe.