The Indescribable Power of Gratitude

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”  ― Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling overwhelmed right now. There’s one topic on everyone’s mind and on everyone’s lips. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest…I didn’t know there were that many ways to decorate a fallout shelter. I’m impressed with your creativity, but I’m also exhausted. My brain can’t process any more information or see one more headline.

It’s all too much!

This weekend, I shut it all down and swore to myself that I wouldn’t look at social media, news headlines, or email. It was time for a break so I watched movies, baked bagels, and washed my walls because I was that bored. I promised myself I wouldn’t look online for two whole days. I lasted two whole hours but then I shut it down again and went to find more distractions. It was an exercise in rinse and repeat, but I managed to shut it off more than I turned it on but, oh boy, the struggle is real. 

My problem is, we’re only seeing the bad news, the worst of humanity, and the despair brought by this invisible monster. Bad news sells, and good news gets drowned out by the falling pennies. There is a lot of bad right now! I see it and feel it just like you do. I have family working in the medical field, and I’m desperately worried about each of them. I’m worried about all front line workers from the medical field to the grocery stores. I’m worried about the people who are sick, and their loved ones who must feel so powerless and terrified. 

I’m worried, anxious, and I can’t see the roses through the thorns because those prickly bastards are everywhere.

But there is good out there right now and there are things to be grateful for even in this dark hour. I know, they seem hard to find. I’ve be struggling to see them too. Then again, maybe I’m not really looking. The good, the wondrous, the miraculous is all around us if we take a break from the bad. Not ignore it or stick our heads in the sand and pretend nothings going on because, clearly, a lot is going on. A break, a time out, to breathe and look for something to relieve the pressure.

You notice that I’ve been dancing around the name of this thing invading our lives? It’s not V-V-Voldemort. Saying its name won’t make it appear or make it disappear. Stand in front of a mirror, say it three times, and turn off the light. What happened? Yeah, nothing because it’s just a name. A name that represents something really bad and I’m desperately trying to focus on the good.

Something good. Something good…Something…Oh! I know!

I’ve spent the last two weeks in quarantine because I came in direct contact with the thing that shall not be named. The symptoms lined up and precautions had to be taken. Two weeks, alone, in my tiny apartment with my dog, cat, and thoughts. *Shiver* But yesterday my doctor called and my test finely past through the backlog. Good news! I don’t have, you know what, so I’m free to socially distance myself rather than completely isolate. I did have a viral lung infection just not…You know.

Kissing my doctor on the mouth would’ve been inappropriate. He’s a married man, after all, and a professional. Perish the thought! I had the thought so thankfully it was a phone call, and I have decent self-control. However, the relief might’ve made me lose my mind, but I maintained my dignity. I failed the test which shouldn’t come as a surprise. I’ve always been bad at tests but this in one test I’m so grateful to fail with flying colours.

What else? Kindness! The kindness I’ve received these last few weeks has been so overwhelming. The messages of support. The offers to help in any way. Prayers, well wishes, and thoughtful acts mean the world to me. When I said I missed hiking, I received an email with pictures of the woods and my smile just won’t go away.

In Canada, some people coined the term, ”Care-mongering” to combat the rise in anxiety and the fear-mongering. A group of people got together to find ways to help the most vulnerable and isolated people in their communities. Making sure they have what they need to get through this crisis and find unique ways to lessen the loneliness. It’s a campaign that’s taken off and brought the best out of people across the country. 

The world is coming together to help the most affected. Doctors in China, after months of fighting for their own people, are leaving their homes to help their colleagues in Italy and Spain. Can you imagine how tired they must be after all they went through? Still, they’re going to share their knowledge and skill with those whose fight is just getting started.

The courage, strength, and generosity! Politics be damned, racial divides can suck it, we’re one world and when the world is in danger the best of us step up to help. That is truly the most remarkable thing I’ve seen. What a joyous thing to see strangers helping strangers. Strangers becoming allies, friends, and family. For all our differences, we’re all on this journey together and maybe now we can take this opportunity really appreciate what that means.

Is that recklessly optimistic?

Through all of this, the humour that’s been found in the darkest of places is a beautiful thing. Meme’s, Gifs, one-liners that are so funny I’ve choke on my tears. I think my favourite was, “When you realize quarintine is another word for your normal life.” Uh, true dat! True what? I’m never saying that again. I appoligize profusely!

Laughter has saved my life before and it will save it now. As long as we’re laughing, we know we’re alive so keep the jokes coming and I’ll be grateful for every chuckle.

Finding things to be grateful for is challenging and maybe it seems impossible. Maybe the attempt feels futile? I have these moments when I feel like gratitude is almost sacrilegious or disrespectful. People are sick, so many have died, even more are about to die. Frontline workers are reaching their breaking point. What about them? 

Perhaps thanking them is more important than ever? In Vancouver, at sunset, people stand on their balconies and cheer for our health care workers. Car horns blare. A chorus of: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for all that you do. Yes! Thank you, where ever you are in the world, we’re so grateful for each of you. 

Gratitude, in times like these, gives us all a little more strength to carry on when we’ve reached our limit. It helps us stand when all we want to do is curl up and cry. It’s an act of love in a time when it seems like love is a luxury we can’t afford. It parts the thorns long enough for us to see, feel, and smell the roses.

It’s hard, at times like these, to find things to be thankful for so if you have something I missed? Leave it down in the comments. It’s a small thing but smalls things can lead to a big hope for those of us struggling. Thank-you for your time, and your kindness. 

For reliable, up to date, information about our current situation please check out these sites:

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