I'm having trouble finding gratitude right now. I've written before of how I used to pray for a grateful heart because there was a big hole in mine where my gratitude should be. I believed that I'd gotten over this problem; worked through my issues and found what I'd been missing. Except it's missing again. Not entirely, and not the way it used to be. I don't have a gaping crater in the center of my chest, feeling like the mouth of some dried up volcano. Instead, I feel the gratitude for my wonderful life—I don't need angelic visitations to remind me of the fact that I'm blessed beyond measure with health, love and abundance. But I can't seem to go deep, to dive in as I often do, and swim in the warm, enveloping waters of my intense gratitude for this existence of mine. I'm sure you are familiar with the litany of my complaints—my Cadillac problems, as a friend called them: I have the drama llama inhabiting my workplace; my kids spend all their time bickering, messing with their phones and telling me the sky is green just because I said it was blue; my house is a bottomless money pit; my writing isn't going well. I need to lose five pounds. Maybe ten. You know. We've all been there. And in that messy morass of the muck of life, I can't find my touchstone, my gratitude. I called a friend. She listened and then said, "Okay, I hear you and all your problems. Now tell me something good." I was stumped. Which is ridiculous of course. That same friend said, "Well, what are you reading? Surely there is something there for you to ponder. And write about. That will help." She was right. I'd just finished the latest installment in the Dragon Fall series by Katie MacAlister. Dragon Soul, tells the story of Rowan, who morphs from a human, known as the "Dragon Breaker" (and not in a good way), to being a dragon, and the leader of his sept, or tribe, as well as that of his dragon mate (and the only current member of his sept), Sophea. Rowan's problems are of the Ford Fiesta variety—if you suddenly find yourself in a world filled with dragons, demons, alchemists and mages, of course. Poor guy needs to adjust, quickly and unexpectedly, to his transformation from human to dragon in human form, with all the intensity of emotions and spontaneous combustion that entails. A bit trickier than my first world issues.
And how does Rowan, who now roars, somewhat uncontrollably, deal with his difficulties? He finds the gratitude, that's how. Sure, he can't control his fire and throw rugs everywhere are imperiled. But aside from ruining floor coverings, there are positive aspects of being a fire-breathing monster. Rowan quickly realizes that he's gone from being despised among the dragonkin, to being a member of the band. And with that comes the real prize—Sophea, a mate to call his own, a woman he loves beyond all reason. For him, that's good reason to be grateful for his abrupt metamorphosis.
So, as I often look to my fictional friends for life lessons, I'll take one here: if Rowan can do it, so can I. So what if work is a total drag right now? The drama will unfold and then get folded up and put away. My kids will eventually grow out of being sixteen, and I will no longer be completely ignorant in their eyes. Our house will eventually run out of projects or we will sell it and let the next owners worry about them. I will finally finish these horrific labor pains and eventually birth this piece of writing that is attempting to be born. And I'll either lose those five pounds or figure out how to hide my ever-burgeoning muffin top. One way or another, this too shall pass.
And what will be left? My beautiful, if bickering family. My eternally loyal and absolutely remarkable friends and our rock-solid friendships. My health, hopefully, albeit in an aging package. My sanity, if I'm careful and lucky. And my gratitude for all of the above. I'm rich, rich, rich beyond measure or merit. And I'm grateful for it.
Thanks to Katie MacAlister for helping me find my gratitude and my truth in fantasy.