Life conspires to make gratitude difficult. Things go wrong. Deadlines press. People are irritating. Clients demand the impossible and won’t listen to reason. Drivers on the cellphone paying no attention to traffic cut in ahead of one.
In other words, it is easy to get pecked to death by ducks. And behind this day-to-day noise on the line, the possibility of tragedy always lurks.
No one with kids feels immune from incipient tragedy. If you’ve ever had the emergency operator break in on the phone line telling you to meet your child’s ambulance at the hospital, or if you’ve ever been told the chance of your child’s survival is in the “low single digits”—and I have had both these experiences—you’ll never again take normal life for granted.
But a brush with mortality makes life sweeter. And clearing the field of all the “pecking ducks” by watching a sunset, or taking a walk in nature reminds me of how much there is to be thankful for.
I am happy when I remember to be thankful for things large and small: the rush of my kids filling the house with life, a spider web wet with morning dew, and colors in the late afternoon sky. I am grateful that I can be thankful for the gifts I’ve received rather than embittered by the struggle that life is on occasion for all of us.