I just watched Life of Pi.
Reading the book was on my to-do list. But I just never got around to it. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone interested in it, so if you haven’t read the book or watched the movie, you should go read this really fantastic blog about homeless people instead.
In Life of Pi, the protagonist loses everything.
His country. His home. His girlfriend. His family. Human companionship.
Then, he loses basic needs. Shelter. Food and water. Safety.
My favorite line in the film was: “Hunger can change everything you thought you knew about yourself.”
I don’t think we spend enough time thinking about stuff like this.
We wake up and go to work and eat food and do random activities we may or may not actually enjoy, then go to bed. Then we do it all over again the next day.
We complain about our bills. I’m still whining about those stupid couches in the living room.
We fret over the loss of our creature comforts. This actually happened: When someone asked me why I still have the iPhone 4S and never upgraded to the iPhone 5, I talked about how much I enjoy having a bunch of phone-charger cords, and how I put off upgrading to avoid “only” having one or two phone-charger cords rather than the five or six I have now. I have issues.
We whine because our good stuff isn’t good enough. I had a conversation last night with two other guys over beers about how our high-definition widescreen televisions weren’t nice enough. How we needed bigger and better ones.
People are sick. Dying. Addicted. Starving. Abused. Raped. Murdered. Wrongly accused. Impoverished. Abandoned. Homeless.
Sometimes people are several of those horrible things at the same time.
And I was drinking a $6 beer and bitching about a 53-inch HDTV I wish was nicer.
We can all use a little perspective once in a while.
Me, more than most.
We must choose to be grateful. Actively. To feel it.
We need to remind ourselves due to our natural tendency to take things and people for granted. It is one of the pitfalls of the human experience.
My favorite writer is a guy named James Altucher.
I don’t know that I think he’s the best writer. Probably not. But he’s my favorite. Because he’s the guy who taught me to be honest when I write. So honest that I’m sometimes afraid to hit “Publish.”
He claims to write down at least 10 miracles every day. The miracles aren’t necessarily Holy-Jesus-Did-You-Just-See-That!? miracles.
A few of his examples:
“At 5 a.m. this morning, I walked outside and watched the river, gray and beautiful under a rising sun. Then I saw a skunk looking at me. It was strikingly beautiful as well. Then I ran.”
“My two daughters are too young to fight in any war in Syria. They can’t even operate drones. I hope they always stay that young.”
“While I was driving and not killing anyone, a satellite from outer space beamed the song “Heart of Glass” directly into my car. This made me very happy. Finally outer space is useful.”
I don’t know if I have the time, discipline or inclination to write down 10 miracles every day like Mr. Altucher. But as an exercise in strengthening my gratitude muscle? It seems like a worthwhile endeavor.
It’s about 5 p.m. I haven’t even left my house yet today. (Bad decision!) But here are 10 miracles at work today.
- My heart is beating. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t plug it in. Or use a battery. But there it is. Delivering life to the rest of me. Providing the opportunity to breathe the fresh, cool air and admire the perfect blue sky and think and eat and watch a movie.
- I don’t feel lonely.
- I was invited to a party tonight.
- I thought about a girl today who isn’t my ex-wife. Someone I’d like to go out with.
- I get to feel excited about little stuff like watching football again.
- A bunch of little things that make writing this possible. Electricity. My computer. Wireless Internet access. The use of my hands and fingers.
- I don’t feel angry about my marriage failing.
- Life of Pi entertained AND enlightened me.
- I can survive several weeks on the food in my house. I won’t go hungry. And when the supply dwindles, I can afford to go to a grocery store and buy more food. What a blessing.
- I have you. I don’t know how many of you there are. Doesn’t matter. I have a reader. I am unbelievably grateful for you. You have no idea. It’s a miracle. You’re a miracle.
Find a reason to tell someone who matters that you’re grateful for them today.
You’ll feel good.
They’ll feel good.
And you both deserve it.