Gratefulness is this wonderfully easy-to-forget thought that we stumble upon every now and when we do, we say ‘of course I am.’ Right? On a good day, I remember the thanks, the smiles that go with them, and yes, I am noticing the sun dancing on a bee’s wings.
Life takes any opportunity to remind of all sides of any story though. My daily forays in the park with pup on my side is where many of the reminders come about.
Graceful enough, on any given day, I oblige and show gratefulness for the buzzing that surrounds the tall, yellow-tufted mustard weeds and for the world of tall grasses that hug my legs with long, sharp blades of green and seedy heads.
On any given day, I give my thanks for the silence that is punctuated with the clinking sound of the pup’s tags ringing her presence. Near, far, near, hiding, stop… smell, jump, near, far, near. I stop, she stops. For the sky that traps my gaze in its vivid blue streaked with long, wispy clouds.
I am grateful for the resident hawk that belongs in that blue as much as clouds do; for the graceful circles he traces up there, and for how I can let time sink under my feet as I stop and stare. Grateful for not having to rush, for the humility that I find in walking as the hawk flies, high and wordlessly loud.
On any given day, I am grateful for noticing two round eyes peeking through the foggy-white leaves of a Russian olive tree. A doe, ever so inconspicuous, silently nestled in the warm sand. I give my thanks to the doe through the secrecy I commit to. I do not betray her presence to pup, who translates gratefulness of encounters into mad chases. She’ll never catch up to any deer but the chase is what she’s after.
Last night, a doe we met on the trail stared, as we did too. No chasing by pup, no unnecessary moves for a few long minutes. Just long gazes that needed no deciphering. No explanation other than the gratefulness of sharing time and transcending what we think of communication for a few minutes.
On any given day, it feels like the park with all its green extravaganza of grasses, birds, bugs, and frothy creeks is ours; we stroll, pup and I, with the confidence of knowing its secrets and its songs.
Humbleness never sends a harbinger, that much I know. This morning we walk the same way we always do. We take the path, the bridge, poking the cloud of sweet overgrown summer grasses as we rush through.
Rustling in the brush nearby gives someone’s presence away. Pup’s ears perk up. Startled, she barks. On the side of the path, barely hiding, two young people sit among weeds and scattered belongings. The man looks up, eyes glazed and slurry words barely making their way out as I apologize for my intruding dog.
The woman’s face is covered by long, black hair and she throws a sideway confused look. Sadness overwhelms me as I leave them to it. ‘It’ means injected drugs. Right there, off the path, steps away from people walking dogs and chatting about the day being a good one. Lost souls. I felt conflicted about the privilege I have. To walk, carefree, pup included, through place where I see but beauty and I am reminded of gratefulness. To see and feel the world as is: hurting at times, but beautiful and surprising on any given day.
Today I am reminded of more. Of how deep the wounds that hurt us humans run, of how profound their print on our soul, of how easy it is to be smug when all is lined up and society nods upon you approvingly, and how easy it is to forget that that when people find themselves trapped on the dark side of life, judgment is often what most of us have to offer.
We know judgment distances us from where humanity belongs, but fear of looking at darkness and relating to it (because let’s face it, there’s shreds of darkness in every one of us) makes us push our belonging efforts to where the light is.
Tomorrow, pup and I will pass by the spot where the young couple was. She’ll smell the grasses and wonder, and I will be reminded that gratefulness comes in dark tones as well as bright ones. That I need a whole lot of humbleness to remember that.