By Samantha McKenzie
Many of us understand the basic tenets of being grateful.
I must confess, however, that my gratitude wanes from time to time. I get a little sloppy. It’s never intentional. I sorta get stuck in the fast-paced routine of my every day, ordinary life and before you know it, I take a break from being thankful.
But tragedy has a way of knocking you to your knees. Yesterday, it was the head on collision with a school bus that killed a 17-year-old high school student in North Carolina. On Wednesday, it was the shocking murder of Alison Parker, a 24-year-old news reporter and Adam Ward, a 27-year-old cameraman in Virginia. And yes, the 35 homicides in the last 30 days in Baltimore helped to sober me up as well.
While it shouldn’t take death to remind any of us to be grateful, it sure does serve as an ample reminder. I’ve had to create a regimen of thankfulness to my daily routine. In addition to my morning and evening prayers (and grace before meals), I pick something every day to remind me to be thankful. Today it will be birds. Every time I see a bird, I will pause to give thanks. Tomorrow it might be hats, who knows.
Each time I hear myself whine or complain, I think of five things I am thankful for.
- I am thankful for having food, clothing and shelter.
- I am thankful for my supportive family.
- I am thankful for the opportunity to work and earn a living wage.
- I am thankful for my health.
- I am thankful for waking up in my right mind.
This quiets my eager soul. It keeps me humble. I think about the people who went to sleep last night and never awoke. I think of the people who got up this morning, ready to carry out the days chores, and never made it back home. I remind myself of the newborn babies who didn’t make it out of the hospital. The children who are suffering from terminal illnesses. The victims. Their families. The soldiers. The casualties.
I am tremendously grateful for my life. And I will keep plugging away at remaining this way. I will say it aloud. I will write a longer list. I will refrain from getting too comfortable or from taking tomorrow for granted. I will remember that 2.3 million Americans die annually and that one million of those deaths are sudden.
I will stay in the driver’s seat of gratitude.