The Blessings of This Life and the Joys of the World to Come
by, 7th September 2011 at 08:54 AM (5905 Views)
Once in a while, I remember all the good things I have not done anything to deserve, but enjoy nevertheless...
The only appropriate response to this is deep gratitude. The sheer generosity of our friends and loved ones is so precious, and we so often take it for granted or fail to repay it in kind, that we absolutely must remember to be grateful or risk losing our humanity altogether.
Even beyond human love and kindness, consider the beauty of the world, its rich color, sensuality, flavors, and aromas, its spectacular sunrises and sunsets that can fill our minds, if only we take the time to be surprised by joy! What a poor life it would be if we never saw life's possibilities and opportunities wide open to us just for the finding!
Now you're going to say that I'm some kind of sentimental sap, living in a fantasy land, a fool's paradise, looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. You'll tell me that I don't really see how people are out to screw me and take me for whatever they can get.
And I'll tell you that I'm not blind, and I'm nobody's fool. I'm not fool enough, in fact, to focus chiefly on what's wrong if I can't fix it, and I surely can't live other people's lives for them, or (beyond reasonably defending myself and others) influence the evil that's callously done every day. I would let myself be defeated and not be motivated to try to make the world a better place if the wonder of every act of kindness and the marvel of every lovely place and time didn't inspire me to love this precious gift as much as I possibly can.
The world could be so much better — yes, it's true. Better with more justice, kindness, caring, and generosity. Better with less exploitation, greed, cruelty, and violence. Yet if we do not see its essential goodness and bounty, why would we bother to make it a better place at all?
Hope and faith in better tomorrows are not empty luxuries, but the very stuff of humanity's aspirations and future happiness. Believe the world to be a flawed and corrupted place if you want, but in spite of a fairly long life and more than a few disappointments, I'm not buying that worldview.
For me, gratitude for the good things is not only pleasure, though it certainly is that; yet it's more than just that. It's the inspiration for the further joy of
accepting responsibility to pass it on by my own kindnesses and caring for others. Every gift I enjoy is an invitation to pass its joy on to others, to make sure they too have a chance to live a life that has thankfulness for love and beauty as its grounding and strength. I will never to allow any suffering or hardship life may hand me to rob me of the essential joy of being alive.
Just for fun, think of this: In Doug Adams's sci-fi series Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the fourth novel is named for the dolphins' message to humanity when they depart planet Earth as it's about to be destroyed to create a hyperspace bypass. Book four is called for the dolphins' message: So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish. Gratitude is, after all, the best good-bye any sentient being can express.
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