Yesterday I spoke to a group about my sobriety. I said, “Every day I make a decision… and not the decision not to drink. I make a decision to have a good day. And I say thank you to God, to whatever, for the day. I’ve heard it said that an alcoholic who isn’t grateful, will drink. I know this is true for me.”
This practice has only been with me a little while but it has reaped intense and immediate benefits. This practice does not mean only “good” things happen to me. This practice also has little to do with alcohol, and is not unique to addicts – but it has everything to do with Recovery. This practice will sustain me when all other measures fail.
For me, gratitude is a choice and right effort; it is a practice… but it is also something each of us can atrophy to the point of disability. We do this destructive work with our minds until soon we believe we are our minds, and we live in anxiety, stress, fear, and a perpetual cycle of avoidance and greed. Living this way is why I now know the importance of strengthening my spiritual and ethical practice. As I heard a few friends say over the last few days, “We only have control over two things… our actions, and our thoughts.”
I’ve weighed that sentence a bit over the last few days and realized it’s stunningly true. Many people have very little mastery over their thoughts; their thoughts have control over them. They are overrun with judgment and suffering, at the mercy of feelings and judgments that cause them, and others around them, to suffer.
Living without gratitude was a living death. Like most all persons on the planet, I’ve experienced attraction and giddiness, sentimentality and enslavement. These I mistook for gratitude, but gratitude is more of a decision than a high, more of a practice than a virtue. Faking gratitude or mouthing gratitude is pointless, may fool others but does not fool me, is likely harmful – and I won’t do it.
I’ve written about gratitude before, and very recently. It is a lifeblood to me like food and air and rest.
Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.
Today, I truly am thankful.
“i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)”
that is one of my favorite by e.e. cummings – some days it becomes like a prayer of gratitude and at others like a plea for assistance – somehow, thought, it always touches me deeply even just to utter that first line…