Gratitude is Noticing

a beautiful oak tree standing tall against blue sky with huge fluffy white clouds all reflected in a calm lakeIt is not easy to notice progress. As a carpenter might build a house, it is not always easy to see construction moving forward. It is only after some time has passed, days and weeks of seemingly endless labor, and only then climbing to the top of a hill in the distance to reach a new perspective from which to look down on the house, can it actually be seen with the naked eye. And what a feeling.

The past two years have been singular in building my own house, as it were. Building a new career, a new path, a new family, a new perspective, a new life from which I feel unspeakable gratitude and satisfaction from. Progress is quite something to see when we see it. It is gratitude to notice it.

I sit writing this tonight as my little boy sleeps quietly in his room, now 3 years old. He is talking all the time now (when awake and also sometimes while sleeping), asking such incredible questions about everything, his curiosity white-hot, heated by the flame of his young spirit. I hope the inspiration he gives me never wears off. I hope he never stops asking questions, looking at things, wanting to touch them, smell them, taste them, be them. Questions are, after all, the real key to learning and understanding whatever there is to be learned and understood in this life. I have no doubt he will find his way just as sure as I am sitting here writing and thinking about him and the kinds of work he will do, the friends he will have, the challenges he will overcome and the life and family he will make for himself in time.

Likewise, in the other room, another son of sorts sleeps peacefully, too. He is now a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis. We first met almost 14 years ago. We met in Juneau, Alaska, when he had just turned 6. I had been matched to him as his first Big Brother and we hit if off immediately, having a quirkiness in common that fit somewhere between a love of chess and kickball and all things gaming and geeky. We spent hours and hours together. We built computers, yes, played dozens and dozens of games of chess, made pizzas on weekends, took long walks, threw frisbees to dogs regularly and had lunch together almost every single Friday afternoon for years. He is now a young man, capable of accomplishing anything he might set his thoughtful, bright and gentle mind to. I am humbled and inspired by the mere sight of him.

I am grateful he would have the idea to travel here to spend the holiday with Dash and I, to join our little family in our little corner of the world and find as much enjoyment in it as we do, such as the simple components of a moment spent goofing and enjoying each others presence. It is no surprise he and my son get on as if they were blood. They compliment one another just in the way they play, in how they seem to understand and communicate with each other so well. These two, who are separated by what might be light years in age, simply get each other. I hardly notice the difference, as their laughing banter drifts into the kitchen where I put dishes away and put the kettle on.

And this is the thing: I have rarely felt so successful or so satisfied in any of my life’s moments, thus far.

Whatever it is worth, whoever may read this one day long after I am gone, please know that today was one of those most heavenly of days. One of those days that it was so easy. I did not long for anything but the very moment I was in. I have been a witness to the wonders of invested time and moments of presence given without contract. I have had the distinct honor, fortune and pleasure of seeing seeds planted long ago that have grown tall, strong and kind right alongside ones freshly planted, merely waiting to sprout into another fine, stately oak. I am speechless, mumbling here in a weak attempt and so offer my most humble gratitude to any and all of the gods for such gifts. There are no words to express what I am attempting to transmit here.

Bless all of you this season. May the fruits of your labors give you joy and satisfaction from the ones you love and cherish. May you notice a bounty of progress. Cheers.