Last week I wrote about the sorry state of the world. Ironically, at around the same time I was feeling overwhelmed by it all, a ‘gratitude’ challenge was making the rounds on Facebook. It was really interesting, and inspiring, to see what people were sharing.
I’ve been thinking about it ever since — and about the coincidence of the timing — and realize it’s for an important reason; and it carries an important message: No matter how bad or challenging life may seem we must acknowledge the good, what is working, what’s right, what’s positive.
Which doesn’t mean to say we should stop questioning, or paying attention or ignore what’s wrong or never feel sad or turn our backs on those who need our compassion and help. But we do have to learn to be grateful, to thank our lucky stars.
In my case, there’s a lot to be thankful for. Starting with the fact I woke up today. I know that sounds cliche, but I mean it. No matter how bad life ever gets, being alive sure beats the alternative. Nothing like a sunrise to fill you with hope and put a smile on your face.
Parents. My God, what wonderful parents I had. They loved me and were proud of me, regardless. When I was right and when I was wrong. When I was good and when I wasn’t. When I got great marks in school and when I didn’t. When I was successful and when I failed. They believed in me. They encouraged me. They gave me the greatest gift of all — confidence. They supported my decisions. They let me live my life the way I wanted to, even if it’s not what they would have chosen for me. They didn’t preach — they showed me by setting great examples they hoped I’d follow.
Talk about the luck of the draw.
Luck. How lucky am I that I’ve gotten to live my dream. As a child I wanted to work in advertising. At twelve years old I’d watch TV and re-write the commercials. When I was thirteen or fourteen I was in New York with my parents and my mother’s twin sister. We were visiting family (my mother and aunt were born in New York, but my grandparents moved to Montreal when they were very young). What none of us knew was that the cousin we were having dinner with worked in advertising. So did his brother-in-law, who was also there.
OMG, I was beside myself when we found out. He’d asked me if I knew what I wanted to do, when I was finished high school and I’d answered “advertising”. That’s when he told us. That was it. No one got a word in edgewise for the rest of the evening. Amazed I was so passionate — for a kid — he asked me if I’d ever seen CA (Communications Arts) Magazine, which I hadn’t. He disappeared and came back with their latest ‘annual’ issue — a retrospective of the best, most creative, most successful campaigns of the year.
It didn’t leave my hands all night. And he was a real sweetheart because he told me I could keep it. I read each and every page, drooled over each and every campaign and made a list of all the ad agencies I wanted to work for — and all the clients/brands whose advertising I wanted to do, based on what I saw in that annual. I begged my parents to get me a subscription, which they did, and trust me — I was waiting for the mailman each month when a new issue came out.
But my point is, I got to work in advertising. And I got to work for a lot of those agencies, and clients, I’d found in that very first copy of CA I ever saw. And I’ve had great mentors and a lot of smart, talented people taking an interest in me along the way. My dream was fulfilled. I’ve had a terrific career and if that’s not something to be grateful for, then I don’t know what is.
There’s all the mistakes I’ve made, too. Strange as it may sound I’m grateful for them as well. Because they’ve all taught me something; and in the process I’ve ended up either smarter or stronger or more resilient or a better person — and who can regret that?
My life has also been blessed with a loving and supportive extended family and wonderful, caring, loyal friends. Not to be taken for granted, that’s for sure.
And how exciting is it, to be alive at a time when technology makes almost anything you could ever think of, possible? When medical research and advancements in medication and surgery and treatments can extend lives and give hope to thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of people who, even as recently as five or ten years ago, might have found themselves with no hope at all.
One of my cats just jumped up on the table where I’m working. He gave a little squeak, and a little nudge with his head, licked my face and took off. His way of telling me he loves me. So sweet. And another reason to be content. And grateful.
Enough about me, though. What about you?