An Exercise in Gratitude


It was a Friday, and I was in a bad mood. I had just been yelled at for a mistake I had made, and felt the anger behind the attack had gone too far. Desperate to be alone, I took a walk. My anger kept me from noticing the warmth in the air, or the perfect fluffy clouds above, or the deep blue of the sky- the kind of blue one usually only tends to see in October. I was angry, and that was all that mattered. “Calm down”, I muttered to myself every few minutes. “Calm down”. Broken glass glittered in the street gutter as cars zipped by, rolling along to various destinations. Tree branches swayed as a soft breeze picked up every few minutes, bringing with it the scent of freshly cut grass. And as I walked by a building for sale, a tiny yellow flower waved excitedly at me.

I stopped. Up until then I had only been paying attention to the angry sound my heels were making as they slapped against the pavement. This was different. I bent down and touched the flower. There was nothing especially remarkable about this flower- just a tiny deep yellow five petaled flower of a weed with a pink center, the whole of which was no bigger than my thumbnail. But I liked it. I was happy to see it. “Thank you,” I said, without really understanding why.

Nearby I could hear the sound of a drainage ditch. It was no creek or  river, but it was running water, and I could not resist its sound. Casting a shadow over it was some sort of willow, and it still had a few petals of blossoms stubbornly clinging to the tips of its branches- a bit late in season, I thought. At the time it had managed to scatter the majority of its petals to the ground all around it, and several were drifting like tiny boats downstream and under the street, on to parts unknown. I laughed. Tiny petals, and this beautiful tree, the sound of flowing water. “Thank you,” I said again to each in turn.

By this point I was looking. It was a beautiful day. Comfortable temperature, bright sunny sky, the odd cloud to make things interesting. The zip and energy of cars, the thump of small city life, the ageless calm of trees. And the green grass grows all around, evidenced by the scent that had now begun to tickle my nose. I smiled. “Thank you. Thank you, smell of cut grass. Thank you, bright sun. Thank you, blue sky. Thank you, fluffy clouds. Thank you, zippy cars. Thank you, warm air. Thank you, beautiful trees. Thank you, sound of running water. Thank you, broken glass that glitters in the light. Thank you, soft petals that fall from the trees. Thank you, tiny flower that caught my attention.” I’m walking, and looking, and thankful. Thank you, beautiful color on that woman’s shirt. Thank you, deep red soil. Thank you, tiny row of petunias the bank just planted. Thank you, smell of soil. Thank you, tiny acorns that the oak has scattered. I’m looking to thank, looking to love. It’s addicting. Thank you eyes, thank you nose, thank you feet, thank you hands, thank you heart, thank you life…

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