This is a question I’ve been contemplating quite a bit lately; would life mean as much today if I hadn’t had to take a stroll through hell to get here, first?
I wake up in the morning and I can’t help but be thankful for the day before. I think about work a little bit, check my email messages, think about coming home and seeing my wife and kids, think about a funny aspect of my ride the night before (Monday’s, for example, was a fun ride but I felt a little like Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story because I had to layer up against the cold)… and all of a sudden, I’m thinking about just how good it is to be me and I can’t help but smile.
Every now and again, that morphs into, would I be this happy if I didn’t have to go through the hell of addiction first? Would I even have the capability to recognize what I have as fantastic if I hadn’t been so low? Better, without AA’s recovery program, would I be able to even grasp how truly beautiful my life is, let alone enjoy it?
See, here’s the cool part; my life isn’t all that awesome. I have to go to work every day, just like the vast majority of us. I have to pay the mortgage, we’re on a budget being a single-income family, work would be stressful if I let it get to me (and sometimes I do), we live in a small-ish old home (though I do have a spare room for my bikes, which is really cool)… see, there are things that aren’t perfect, or that could be improved upon, maybe, but I’m still exceedingly happy with what I have.
Now, most people would try to convince themselves they shouldn’t be as happy as this, and that would mess up that most excellent, “I’m grateful for what I do have” vibe. I’m not most people…
This gets interesting when I look at the overall meaning of the bad things I’ve gone through in life – including a rape in college (oh yes), addiction, arrests, a trial in which I was looking at a lot more than a stint in the county jail, followed ultimately by my recovery. All of the bad that I lived through, and there was a lot, makes all of today’s good better.
The simple answer to the question, why am I so grateful for what I have, is always the same. Who cares?! All that matters is “I am“. The full answer is much deeper, richer. When I seek to label things that happen to me as “bad”, I’m really doing myself a disservice because the bad makes the good, better. Another way to look at it, the bad ends up making all the work worth the effort.
In the end, I’ll take my awesome life as I get it. It’s all a matter of perspective – and for that, I am grateful. Again.