Friday, November 30, 2007

What’s Not Wrong

It seems I am in need of a lesson in “what’s not wrong.” You see, I’ve been struggling with a bad cold since Thanksgiving. I’m much, much better this week, with just a bit of laryngitis lingering in my voice. But boy has it been rough. During the unpleasant depths of my cold I recall telling myself something like this: “I will be so thankful when I am better.”

Then, last night, while having a hard time falling asleep, I picked up my tried and true copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step. I opened to his section called “What’s Not Wrong.” I knew this chapter would have something important to tell me. And it did. Hanh writes, “I enjoy breathing every day. But many people appreciate the joy of breathing only when they have asthma or a stuffed-up nose. We don’t need to wait until we have asthma to enjoy our breathing….Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, the wonder of our breathing. We don’t have to travel anywhere else to do so. We can be in touch with these things right now.”

Sometimes I find it so challenging to be thankful when I am struggling. I tend to be future-oriented, hoping for the passing of whatever it is that is ailing me. What if, instead of berating my sore throat, congested sinuses, and croaky voice, I had said, “Thank you, dear body, for fighting this cold for me. You are powerful indeed”? What if I had felt thankful for my body’s ability to know when to rest (and boy did I rest over the past week!)? Or what if I had said (and this feels quite radical and strange to me), “I am thankful for my health”? How can I tell my sick body that I am thankful for its health? I guess in the same way I can tell myself I am beautiful, smart, or successful during moments when I don’t feel quite so.

So, I ask myself now: what’s not wrong? And I can honestly answer: a lot. There is much I enjoy and am thankful for, including my hands typing this blog entry, my warm cup of tea, and the soothing blaze of the fireplace at this café where I am writing to you now. And yes, I am even thankful for this croaky voice. There is depth to it and I feel a bit mysterious with the accent of huskiness on my breath. I didn’t think I’d find a reason to be thankful for this, but here I am doing it. What do you have to be thankful for right this moment?

Try this:

It's list time. Write down everything that is not wrong in your life. What is right, good, positive, or enjoyable? That’s the easy part. Now, focus on some struggles you are having. See if you can find a way to be thankful for these things, too.

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