The end of the year is loaded. Pumpkins, turkeys, glittering lights and champagne toasts bum-rush us in a matter of weeks. Sweet treats, extended family, merrymaking and calls for gratitude both fill us up and overwhelm us.
This year, the season is even more loaded. This year, we’re managing our lives during a pandemic that is surging. My family of five is hunkering down in an effort to keep each other safe and healthy. There might be sweet treats, but seeing extended family and making merry feel out of order. Gratitude, too, feels beyond my grasp.
Why is locating gratitude such a struggle? Worrying about the physical and emotional well-being of family, neighbors and friends takes its toll, yes, but we are so fortunate to have what we need: health, food, a home, each other. When I give thanks for these privileges, why does my gratitude feel so forced?
I think it has something to do with my chaotic inner state. Anxiety, poor sleep quality and tremendously reduced social interaction don’t exactly add up to a sense of calm. Gratitude is my destination, but before arriving, I need to back it up a few stops and catch the Peace Train.
Cue Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf) or if you’re a child of the 80s, 10,000 Maniacs. Are you singing yet or at least humming? Feeling the soft swirl of peace flowing into your heart? When we begin with cultivating peace in ourselves, feeling grateful, both for what we have and what we don’t have, comes more easily.
For now, don’t force feeling thankful. Honor your emotions, whatever they are, and let gratitude hang out on down the line. You know it’s there, getting closer and closer with every ride you take on the Peace Train.
With peace and light,