Seated next to me as we journeyed from Venice to Padova was this lady of middle age. Stressed from the day’s work, I had run to catch the train, abandoning my gelato from a popular gelateria in Piazza San Marco. All I dreamed about as I ran were the soft fibres that constitute the orthopaedic bed lying close to my reading desk. I recall multiple times that day I desired to lay my aching back on that quilted fabric. So, understandably, I wasn’t ready to entertain any discussions. I didn’t even notice the woman save her exotic perfume that facilely found its way to my olfactory bulb.
As the noisy train departed, for so were the old regional trains, I tilted my head backwards to support my spine if by any means I might continue my dream of home, with eyes closed this time. Less than fifteen minutes into the nap, I was awoken by the smile of this gentle lady. The smile was so bright that it shone into my heart, and I needed to see it with my eyes. Kindly disbelieve, but I doubt anything would have woken me up save the alarm that I had set before getting on board, the noise of the train inclusive.
As I threw the windows of my body ajar, they were greeted with such a radiant smile that I had to envelop my entire body with the blood of the sinless Lamb for two seconds. “You don’t want to be demon possessed by the charming smile of a woman old enough to be your aunt,” I thought. But as the contemplation faded and her smiling face turned downwards, my attention was drawn to a miniature notebook before her, leaning on her thigh.
As I watched her scribble on those brown pages, I couldn’t help but keep my lips agape as I read the penultimate line. In amazement, I desired to know why she wrote that line unconcerned I might see it. And with her ever-radiant smile, she responded, “I’m simply grateful for everything.” As our discussion progressed, I became more aware that some of the happiest people I have met in life are folks who are always grateful. Although they recognise the existence of God, some are not necessarily Christians – for I have seen Christians who are very dissatisfied with life and even desire death.
Most times, these are people who do not have many material possessions. Still, they possess a grateful attitude for things neglected by the rich and, unsurprisingly, by even the poor – for the rich lack many things and the poor desire too much.
Many do not live in the corridors of power nor are involved in the hustling and bustling of great ambitious people. They appreciate tiny sips and bites, little chews and swallows, soft pats and smileys. Form and substance, sound and noise, and peel and flesh are equally appreciated.
I’ve met some of them as patients in the hospital; they do not live their grave medical conditions as divine punishments, nor do they think and speak about ugly situations excessively. It’s as though they’ve mastered the ability to solely focus on the positives. And such disposition has brought them wholesome peace and satiety.
Demanding almost nothing from life, not for hopelessness, they’re always pleasantly joyous for things others rarely notice.
It’s as though they’re ever ready to exit the gates of life, not because they’re tired of living, but actually because they are full of life and willing to release the same, if possible, that others may live. Oh, they surely exit with bold smiles printed on their faces.
So, I thought, “Cab, why not keep a note of gratitude, a list of things you’re grateful for? And make sure to add a new one to it daily. You might discover that there is more to be grateful for.”
As Johnson Oatman, Jr wrote in 1897, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” Be intentional about making notes of gratitude daily.