Please watch this video on Gratitude...
For Joy and for Hope and for Love.
What struck me most about this video, what stopped me in my tracks and made me pause the film and come to write this blog post, was when the narrator spoke about looking at other people's faces. We do not do this enough. To really look; to ponder their story, that stranger's story, a loved one's story... an enemy's story. The highs, the lows, the sweetness and the heartache, the day-to-day life of the other, we never contemplate what is outside of our own experience, and yet we should, and we should be grateful for that opportunity.
We should be grateful for the opportunity to really see people, to ask them about their stories, to listen to their tales, to engage with them at a deeply human level. It is through the listening and the openness that we can see their suffering and their joy, their sadness and tragedies, their lightness and loves, and through these very human experiences identify with them, and ultimately try and ease their suffering and celebrate their happiness.
Compassion has to be filled to the brim with gratefulness. Gratefulness that we get to live this life that we live, no matter the suffering and agonies that we face. If we had no suffering we could not appreciate the good things, the delightful things, the beautiful things. And if we cannot identify with and embrace the suffering of others we cannot see their lightness, their good, their beauty.
This reminds me of a moment, a question I was asked, on Monday whilst speaking at a school near Oxford. Working with school children I get many questions literally asked from "out of the mouthes of babes." The question I was asked was this: "Do you ever wish that you had been born with two arms and two legs?"
I see no judgement in this question, I see no pity; I see curiosity, and I see compassion.
"No I don't. I don't because the life experiences that I have had would not have been possible if I had been born with two arms and two legs. I would not have swum at two Paralympic Games or won any medals, I would not have gotten to travel all over the world as a teenager, I would not have met the awesome people that are my teammates, I would not have gone to university at the time that I did and therefore would've missed out on some beautiful friendships, I would not have come on exchange to Leeds University, and then ultimately moved to Leeds and met all of my wonderful UK "family," I wouldn't be here right now, speaking to you, and finding such joy in the work that I do. I could not give all this up, I am so grateful for this life and I wouldn't change a thing."
Gratitude meets compassion and this creates acceptance and joy.
Embrace it all.