3,343 Days

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One of the most poignant lessons during the Art of Joyfulness-Mindful Living Excellence Retreat Jan 3-5, 2014 was none other than the one on ‘Mindfulness of Gratitude’. It is easy to be grateful for all the things that you like and are already grateful for. For instance, parents, family, friends, food to eat and a roof over your head. What I appreciated during this session was the part on how to feel grateful for something I don’t yet feel grateful for. Here’s what is written in the manual:

‘We become grateful when we are aware of what we have rather than what we don’t. … A mindful person is a grateful person. … Think of something you don’t yet feel grateful for. Perhaps, you feel resentful or ungrateful about your job a particular relationship or your commute to work. Now think of all the things that are good about that particular thing … For example, if you have a long commute to work in the car, you could feel grateful that you can afford a car; that you have a job to drive to; that you have the ability to drive; that you have some time to be by yourself, listening to the radio.’

We were asked to write down three things we were grateful for. I decided to take this as a challenge and write about things that I was having difficulty being grateful for. At that moment, I could only come up with two.

The first was, of course, Ladoo. I still miss her and there are times when I’m angry with her for dying on me. I didn’t expect her to die when she was so young. And the number 78 always comes to mind. You see, from the time she had her heart attack, she lived for 78 days before she passed away. For this last year, the thought of her pain and suffering and what she had to endure eats at me.

During this ‘Mindfulness of Gratitude’ exercise, I chose to switch this around. Instead of focusing on the 78 days that she was ill, I counted the number of days she was healthy and happy before her heart attack. That was from the time she was born, 18 November 2003, to 11 January 2013.

(18/11/2003 – 31/12/2003) + (9 years X 365) + (3 days in the leap year) + (11 days in 2013)
ð 44 + 3285 + 3 + 11
ð 3343

So, for 3,343 days, my little bundle sunshine gave me joy. That means that 97.7 per cent of her life, Ladoo was healthy. I now force my parents to talk about the happy things she did during those 3,000 odd days rather than remembering how hard it was to watch her wane in health. It leaves us feeling much happier.

In fact, now, when I think of the number 78, I am grateful that I was given the chance to look after Ladoo when she needed me most. And I smile.

These flowers fascinated me - they are almost a mirror image of each other.

These flowers fascinated me – they are almost a mirror image of each other.

The next topic to feel grateful about are the many things that happened since I started writing full time. For years I worried myself silly about things that happened or didn’t happen, what people said or didn’t say and what people did or didn’t do. I remember a friend telling me a story of her friendship with an established writer. They were fast friends and I assumed their bond was strong. Suddenly, late last year, she told me that this friendship had come to an end because the established writer was nasty (I can’t think of any better word than this). This was because my friend had gained international acclaim and the established writer had been side-lined. What surprised me even more was the equanimity with which my friend dealt with the whole issue. When I asked her about this, she suggested I read Salman Rushdie’s memoir, Joseph Anton. I found myself so grateful to my friend for recommending this book and to Mr. Rushdie for writing it. It put so much of what happens in the writing/publishing industry into perspective.

Prior to the end of this session, our leader recited a very meaningful poem, ‘Oh God, Forgive Me When I Whine’. I’ve tried to find out who the author is, but can’t. So, please let me know who it is, if you know. Here it is:

Oh God, Forgive Me When I Whine

Today, upon a bus, I saw a girl with golden hair.
I envied her, she seemed so gay, and wished I was as fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobbled down the aisle.
She had one leg and wore a crutch.
And as she passed… a smile.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have 2 legs, the world is mine

I stopped to buy some candy. The lad who sold it had such charm.
I talked with him, he seemed so glad.
If I were late, it’d do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me, “I thank you, you’ve been so kind.
It’s nice to talk with folks like you. You see,” he said, “I’m blind.”
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have 2 eyes, the world is mine.

Later while walking down the street,
I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play.
He did not know what to do.
I stopped a moment and then I said,
“Why don’t you join the others, dear?”
He looked ahead without a word. And then I knew, he couldn’t hear.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have 2 ears, the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I’d go.
With eyes to see the sunset’s glow.
With ears to hear what I’d know.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I’ve been blessed indeed, the world is mine.

Just writing this post makes me feel blessed indeed. What about you? What have you not been grateful for in the past and are grateful for now?

By Aneeta Sundararaj


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