Tuesday, July 24, 2007

all signs are go

Can you tell I'm feeling optimistic at the moment? Maybe it's because I've been running every day and the endorphins are flowing, or perhaps it's because I spent the weekend relaxing, immersed in Harry Potter. Or maybe not, who knows? In any case, I don't mind it at all.

The picture above was actually taken awhile ago. I came across it when I was organizing my computer files, and it just fit my current mood so perfectly, I decided to post it.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how one goes from feeling guilty to feeling grateful. In many ways, this is tied to my upcoming trip, though it's something I've dealt with for a long time. I have a tendency to feel bad about the things I have because I know so many people are living with much less. If I take a bath, for example, I can't help thinking that, somewhere in the world, there are people who don't have running water. And I start to feel guilty that, here I am, about to immerse myself in a tub full of hot water when others don't even have enough to drink. It's this inner battle, these seemingly unanswerable questions about why I "have" when so many do not. And I end up worrying so much about the state of the world, about humanity, that I essentially become paralyzed, which does no good whatsoever.

So for a long time, I've been trying to concentrate on being grateful for the many blessings in my life, whether material or intangible, instead of getting lost in the guilt. Guilt brings with it a tangled mess of anxiety and worry; it slows you up, traps you. But gratitude, I believe, is intricately linked to respect -- you are more likely to respect what you truly value. You protect it, cherish it, treat it with integrity. All of which is a lot more powerful -- and a lot more hopeful -- than anxiety and worry.

I cannot turn my head from the injustices in the world, but I don't want an awareness of them to drown me in guilt. I'd rather let that awareness lead to gratitude. To some sort of understanding. And, ultimately, to hope.

It's more than I can fully put in to words here, a complex idea that is pretty basic at its core. A bit of a paradox. But then, more often then not, that's life, isn't it?