"Some people could be given an entire field of roses and only see the thorns in it. Others could be given a single weed and only see the wildflower in it. Perception is a key component to gratitude. And gratitude is a key component to joy." ~ Amy Weatherly
I heard a story:
Once there was a little boy who got a live pony for Christmas. He saddled the pony and rode it around the neighborhood to show off his pony to all the other children. He rode by the house of some neighbors who had very little money. Their little boy was riding a roughly carved rocking horse on the porch of their tiny, battered house. He was laughing and clapping his hands and his delight was infectious to everyone who saw him. His family was gathered around and their joy was complete. The little boy on the pony grimaced and felt the instant, crushing pain of jealousy. He turned his beautiful gray dapple pony around and cantered grumpily home in his shiny brand new leather saddle and his heart was filled with sadness. The joy he had initially felt when he received his amazing pony was erased from his heart by the jealousy he felt from seeing that other little boy so completely content with the carved rocking horse on his porch.
My grandma read me this story when I was young and I have thought of it so many times since then. It is such a characterization of so much of the human heart. If we compare ourselves to those around us, our joy will always be robbed from us. It is never difficult to find someone with more: more beauty, more wealth, more happiness (or so it seems), more love, more sleep 😴, more amenities, more skills, more opportunity in life, etc. We might even be tempted to feel superior is some facet of our being if we allow ourselves the luxury and trap of comparison.
If we rise each morning, thankful for the borrowed breath that is still in our lungs and set our eyes upon what is before us, on doing the next thing, on choosing to keep moving forward, it can alter the course of our lives. Some days are bright and sunny and our hearts are filled with hope and laughter. Some days carry darkness in the clouds and that is when the choice to look forward and carry on is most difficult. The seeds of jealousy, or discontentment, are easily nourished and our innate desire to compare ourselves or our lives to the lives of others is a destructive distraction to what we should each be (uniquely) about.
These nights when Lochlan basically does not sleep, I find the mornings are not always a welcome sight. I'm almost always deeply exhausted, and yet I am constantly reminded that my perspective is limited. I'm like a novice painter struggling to create something beautiful. Suddenly I look up and see the greatest painter masterfully creating beauty that words cannot define. I am overwhelmed in all the right ways and I SEE my own painting so much more clearly. I see that though it is a work in progress and incomplete in every way, it is enough. It has ugly marks and incorrect colors, but when I am finished with it, it will be what it is supposed to be. And it will not be painted by me alone.