What you see is what you get


I repaired my kaleidoscope last week. It amazes me how a few shiny colored pieces of glass and two mirrors can produce an infinite number of patterns. Like watching the clouds in the sky, you can make whatever meaning you like from these random twists and turns.


And, so likewise, it occurred to me as we approach this time of year where giving thanks is on my mind, that opportunities for gratitude are also infinite. It’s all in how you look at things. It in the patterns you notice and the meaning you make, even of little, supposedly, meaningless or ephemeral things. Moreover, if you adopt an attitude of looking around more closely, you start to see cause for gratitude everywhere. And when you do that, you gain the comfort and serenity that naturally follow.


This week, based on what I’ve read, or seen, or done, it was easy to come up with a list of things I’m thankful for, well beyond the traditional ones.


Indoor plumbing; There is nothing like a well-earned, restorative hot shower after a long day in the garden. Wordle; I get to test myself every day, not just with word games, which I do like, but with humility or satisfaction – both important. Paper clips; Seriously! The utility combined with the simplicity of a design that can’t be improved on. Kudos to the paper clip – I really love you, man. Raspberries; Nature’s perfect sweet. Music streaming; I can listen to almost any song I can think of whenever I want. Sunlight; there’s less of it now in Connecticut, and I’m watching the arc of the sunrise and sunset drop lower on my horizon but when the sun shines bright, it’s even more wonderfully uplifting. My old grey Henley shirt; When I put it on this morning, I saw the photo of Joel and me from a very-long-ago Christmas that’s on my dresser, and I’m wearing the same shirt. There are holes in the elbows now, the cuffs are frayed, it still fits and I remember the feeling of him holding me when we were both looking at the camera, and it made me very happy.


Opportunities for gratitude are everywhere, from your first cup of coffee to your kid (or student or client or pet!) asking the “same” question again, to a good night’s sleep. The ordinary can be extraordinary. Just turn the kaleidoscope for a fresh look. It’s easy to think that everything is routine, humdrum, that nothing is special anymore. Don’t be fooled. Everything is special when you appreciate it.