We were at Costco. It was bustling with holiday shoppers — pushing carts, seeking the deals, moving around freely — and I was watching them. Aware of how freely they moved their arms. Picking up their kids, grabbing boxes of oranges, paying at the register. I was so aware of how easily their arms moved and was so painfully aware of how mine hurt.
I couldn’t even push the cart.
I wandered around telling Todd to grab those honeycrisp apples, and the gluten free granola, or the 3 dozen eggs. I’d stand by the cart waiting for him to return because I couldn’t budge it. And in that place of humbling I became aware.
Aware that I took for granted that left arm of mine.
And in that awareness came a brief moment of the real waking up. Of understanding the real grateful. We live in a world that pushes things — things that will make us happy, things that will make life ideal, things that determine success — and yet, really, it’s not those things that truly matter. It’s our lives, our friends, our family. Our hearts. Our time. I had forgotten — just as I wasn’t aware how much I valued that arm until I could no longer use it.
And that got me thinking as I wandered those crowded rows of Costco — I started wondering who else in that store was looking around at those around them thinking about their own losses. Fears. Shortcomings. I wondered about the couple hoping for a baby. The parents counting pennies. The spouse whose spouse was just diagnosed with cancer. The elderly man who just lost his wife. And so on and on and on. It’s easy to do the holidays when everything goes well. But, when there are losses and challenges the simple act of being out among others can tire. The facade of worldly happiness has the potential to chip away at our own authentic joy.
I knew I was not alone.
I wanted to start to see others as kindred souls, and to complain less about my temporary loss — instead to live grateful for this moment. This time with my husband and Samuel. Grateful for the gluten free food choices and for Samuel’s health — especially considering a year ago he was failing. Grateful for the resources to purchase what we needed today. Grateful for my family. Grateful for those around me. Grateful that I have that left arm even though it’s working slow.
That means waking up.
Looking less at myself and my losses and my trials and more at what is good. It means being willing to fully live while things aren’t perfect. And in that fully living it means feeling the loss so that I can feel, can see, the good.
The real authentic grateful.
That’s how I want to live.