What’s really awesome for you lately?
I had such an endearing conversation with a friend this week. A new empty nester, he reflected on this new perspective. Having spent so much time and energy focused joyfully and lovingly on his children the last couple of decades, he now has some of that time and energy ‘back’, to do with what he chooses. And it seems he chooses in part to appreciate the awesomeness of his life a bit more. Fabulous marriage, meaningful and fulfilling careers for both him and his wife, a chance to make a positive difference in the world around him, and happy, healthy kids. Yay!
I absolutely love hearing people revel in awesomeness, don’t you? Is it not totally inspiring? When was the last time you looked around and truly appreciated the goodness all around you? It’s a vulnerable act, if we’re honest. Too often it feels like tempting fate, ‘jinxing it’, to call out all that is going so well, so right. So we keep joy at bay, we keep striving, always looking for how it could all be better. Huh.
What happens when we allow awesomeness to envelope us, penetrate us, move us?
I think the first thing we get is a deep sense of wonder. How could it be so good? How is it even possible? And it doesn’t even have to be anything big. I have a cold—fever, congestion, headache, fatigue, body aches, mental fog. And yet I can hydrate, medicate, and slow down, and still work (not in person!) and take care of the family. The parameters for normal operation in the human body are remarkably narrow. And yet multiple systems can be widely deranged, and we not only survive, we function at about 90% or better for the most part. What an amazingly evolved machine, with perfectly orchestrated and automatically, effortlessly effective redundancies! HOW AWESOME!?
For me, from wonder grows gratitude. Some people can’t actually tolerate a cold so well, but I can. Some people don’t have access to excellent healthcare, but I do. Some people don’t have the marriage, career, and kids that my friend and I have—but we do. And we are grateful. We don’t have to feel shame or guilt for having it ‘better’ than anyone else. Everybody has their challenges in life, us included. And still, counting our blessings is a great way to get perspective in any time, hard or easy.
Gratitude, then, is the fountain from which generosity springs. I wrote about this in 2015:
When I feel grateful, there is enough. I am enough. Even just saying the word, seeing it on the screen, brings me to a more peaceful state of mind and body. It brings to mind the people in my life—my parents, husband, children, friends, colleagues. I recall instances when someone went above and beyond to help me, or when they thought of me and took to the time to call or write. I feel humble. I feel connected. I want to share what I have with others.
When we truly revel in awesomeness, then allow wonder to infiltrate our psyche, then bask luxuriously in deep gratitude, how can we help but wish for everybody to have what we have, to feel what we feel? If I can have all this, when life is this abundant, how can I help but share?
Finally, I believe reveling in awesomeness is the seedbed for my activist heart. I have much and I strive to share freely. I wish for everybody with much to share with those who have much less. I wish for our culture and society to make it easier, through policy, for all to have more than enough, for that to be the default. These days I have cynicism-optimism whiplash at ever higher speed and intensity. I see so much self-absorption, biting competition, and scarcity thinking. Sometimes I just want to shake people and yell, “Look UP! We have so much potential for good here, if we only choose to see it!” But I realize folks don’t always appreciate this approach. So for now I can simply revel out loud for myself, in all the awesomeness I experience every day. And like my friend did, I can share the light I see—emanate it—and I can keep making a difference starting from there.