When I unpacked the new toothpaste tube from its box I grumbled. I’d bought the wrong one! I actually had to unscrew the top not flip it open.
Really? That’s going to take me seconds more! And it requires two hands. And I’ll have to put the lid back on too!
And then I laughed at myself.
Such a first world problem.
Everyday I encounter big and small problems that cause me to grumble and gripe in silent sufferance of their presence in my first world existence.
I forgot to stop at the grocery store on my way home to pick up milk for my coffee in the morning. The hot water is taking too long to get through the tap. I forgot to take out the laundry from the dryer. The driver in front of me didn’t signal he was turning left and now I have to wait until he clears the intersection. What if I don’t get through this light? That pedestrian walked on the flashing orange. Doesn’t she know she’s not supposed to? She’s making me wait.
And I could go on.
In every life, we have grumbles and gripes that ruffle up the waters of our sailing smoothly through each day.
It’s not that we’re looking for trouble. It’s just we don’t have time for these irksome little issues that pop up and slow us down or distract us from getting on with what we’re doing because, don’t you know? We don’t have time for this!
And seriously. Can’t the rest of the world see that what we’re doing is more important than someone else getting where they want to go. That their having what they want to have comes after me getting what I want? That their doing what they need to do is not as important as my ‘to do list’?
Life is a journey of interdependence and cooperation. It takes all of us to keep the peace. All of us to create it too.
And it begins with the little things in our world.
It is not that serious an offense to buy ‘the wrong’ kind of toothpaste. But that fissure of irritation that rippled through my mind when I discovered what I’d done, that did create discord in my being.
Until I moved to gratitude.
I am grateful I have choice when I go out to buy my toothpaste. I am grateful I have a job I love that provides me the money with which to buy it.
And I am grateful for the reminder that I can take my good fortune for granted.
I am grateful there are traffic lights to govern traffic flow, and that people adhere to them making it safe for everyone to drive on the roads.
I am grateful that person got to cross the intersection without getting hit. That they trusted me enough to know they didn’t have to fear my running them over. Sure, they’re ‘not supposed to’ cross on the flashing orange. It’s not a big wait to let them get safely to the other side. And truthfully… Don’t I sometimes rush across the intersection on the flashing light when I’m walking too? Don’t I rationalize when it’s okay for me to do it?
I am grateful for the opportunity to see where my actions are not congruent with my thinking.
I am grateful I have the choice to do better, to change my actions, to see the parallels in what I do and what others are doing too. It reminds me, we are all on this human journey together.
If I’m going to carry anything to help me get through my day in grace, let it be tolerance, compassion and gratitude.
Let me let go of gripes and grumbles and turn instead to gifts and gratitude.
What a gift to be able to have choices, to have hot and cold running water, a fridge to keep my milk cold, and a store to go to when I run out. What a gift to be able to drive to the store so I don’t have to carry heavy groceries too far.
Let me see the gifts in every moment of my life and give thanks for all its possibilities.
Let me let go of gripes and fill my heart with gratitude.