At the intersection of mindfulness and gratitude lies a tiny, little dot on the map. Blink, and you’ll miss it. I don’t know if you’d call it enlightenment. But it is someplace profound.
I can say that now, having recently landed at that intersection while enjoying a quiet, early morning moment in a park with Rico and Roxy.
It was a beautiful morning. The birds sang. Rico splashed in the water. Roxy munched on grass. A light breeze kept my hair out of my eyes (a real treat for me). The early morning scent of flowers and pine hadn’t been covered by exhaust fumes yet. And no people around.
Thankfully, something inside urged me pause and soak it in. After practicing mindfulness for some time now, I knew to obey.
In that mindful pause, the enormity of my gratitude and appreciation for that peaceful, beautiful moment with my carefree dogs before the craziness of another work day shocked me.
Humming electricity radiated from my torso into my extremities. It felt like electrical stimulation in physical therapy.
I wanted to write about it last week. But tragedy struck before I could. A heart attack claimed the life of a family friend on July 6. He was a gentle soul known for his love of live music, kayaking, camping, darts, and maybe a little moonshine.
All of that lovely mindfulness and gratitude went out the window as a shock of a different kind set in. Even though my kneejerk reaction was to beat myself up for not maintaining that inner peace, Roxy taught me a long time ago how to show myself some compassion.
I’ve watched over the last week or so as people (myself included) who had lost touch, forged grudges, or simply taken each other for granted came together to honor a fallen friend.
Over the weekend, I sat among these old friends at his favorite camping spot. We laughed, cried, and reminisced.
At one point, I became mindful of the now familiar urge to pause and soak it in. It was wonderful seeing all of these people, some of whom had been friends for decades, back together again—even if only for a while before the pressure of day-to-day life tries to wedge in between them again. Even though I felt sad at the loss, I also felt so grateful for that moment. More than that, I was grateful to have paused long enough to be aware of how grateful I felt.
And that’s when I noticed the sun peeking through the treetops over my friend’s kayak. A little, “Hey, I’m still here, if you stop to notice.”
I’m so grateful Rico and Roxy inspire me to pause long enough to notice.