So we have this:
gratitude [grat-i-tood, -tyood]
1. the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful:
"He expressed his gratitude to everyone on the staff."
But the thing about being grateful, gratitude, is that it is contingent on several factors:
Feeling it (this is the super easy part)
acknowledging the feeling (this is manageable)
but the hard part comes in the next steps...
communicating the gratitude to the person/place/thing for which you are grateful.
communicating it effectively.
When my grandmother died, I wrote her eulogy.
I was devastated by her passing away, I was extremely sad and trying to be strong because of my mother and aunt, after all they were allowed to indulge in a deeper sorrow than I could.
So, I wrote these words of gratitude into the eulogy and while I think it was a wonderful and powerful tribute, I know, I KNOW, that I inadvertently left people out of it and who should have been included. Which means I know I hurt peoples feelings.
Having your efforts acknowledged is important. I know this from both personal experience and from the lack of a personal experience.
As I navigate my recovery from surgery and everything and have posted my gratitude here I have managed to hurt people I love, both in omission and in not enough. I feel sick about these. The thing is, this is a journal and because it is public I have to tread lightly. But I treat it as a means of processing, of navigating things that can be public. But that is not easy in the aether - It has been requested of me, in the past, that I remove things, that I not include things, that I redact things... and I have honored those. but it has created a careful ground to tread upon.
I am not allowed to talk about or post photos of my [relationship intentionally held back].
I have been requested to limit discussions about others I love and about some personal experiences.
Squink and I revisit what I can post about him here on a regular basis.
So, I suppose that this is not truly my journal... it comes out as an allowable letter to the world based on my life and its experiences as long as I don't violate some things. I am OK with this.
But, lets get back to gratitude.
Felling grateful is a humbling experience. Because to get to that feeling you have to go through some kind of vulnerability and being vulnerable is not easy in the sense that is a state of being that we seek. I mean I don't really know many people who seek to be vulnerable... I tend to think of us humans as trying to avoid being vulnerable.
So here is where I am a twat - inherent in gratitude is sharing it. I have written almost 40 thank you notes (and there are more to be written) to people that helped me along this path... that supported me, that checked in on me and that overall, made me feel like I had a wonderful group of folks supporting me... so what I lack, is that ability to let these people know I am grateful in a manner that conveys just how grateful I am. Because gratitude felt is only part of the experience, gratitude is a social thing (even if you are grateful for a gorgeous sunset or other in-animate thing). So the art in gratitude is that you share it effectively. I suck at that part. I feel gratitude intensely, I tear up and get that pain in your chest that is a good pain, but I have found that is the easy part.
The hard part is going to the next step of acknowledging your gratitude and announcing it.
It is easy for things like my deep gratitude for how the desert smells after a rain - for example - I can post the word "Creosote" on "The Facebook" and people who have spent time in a desert rain get it.
But, saying "I am grateful for what you did to me, thank you" is hard. It is hard because a "thank you" doesn't cover it. And often, especially in more complex relationships, there is a back story that might be just as important... and in terms of this block of a small thank you notes, how do you put that all out there and say "thank you for the totality of what you did for me" without sounding like a freaking Hallmark card (not that hallmark is bad, they make wonderful cards and I buy them when I buy cards)?
So perhaps, this is my big lesson for the rest of my life... to try and get better at this. Because, while I am very comfortable with feeling at it, when it comes to professing it - I really do suck at it.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~ William Arthur Ward