On this journey of mine, I’ve learned that negativity is one of the most powerful ways to cripple creativity, halt forward motion, and strangle my dreams of living the kind of life I yearn for. I’ve also learned that I can’t control other people’s negative comments and behaviors or their discouraging words. Generally, trying to change other people is at best exhausting, and at worst futile. Big dreamers like little ‘ol me have better ways to spend their energy. I’ve noticed too that even well-meaning loved ones can be the first up to bat when it comes to nay-saying. I’m learning to take their good intentions and leave the rest behind. At the end of the day, it’s my own negative thinking that has the most potent influence over my life, and I’ve learned that there is one guaranteed approach to a more positive mindset. It’s an utterly simple concept – gratitude. Today, I’d like to explore the important link between gratitude and passion.
Wow crazy blood moon lunar eclipse, I don’t know if it’s cause I’ve got my moon flower (aka red tent time, aka hide me in a cave and leave me the hell alone) but I am awash in some kind of insane explosion of creativity. I can barely sleep, and for once the steady reel of tragedy and fear that plays on a loop in my brain is matched one for one by awesome ideas and inspiration. If it wasn’t so exhausting, I’d want this to be the norm. But I have three kids, one of whom is an almost-three-year-old, so I need my sleep, okay? Here’s a perfect example of what my interior looks like right now, and it all started with a picture:
This, my friends, is for the dogs. Literally. I snapped this while strolling through the tourist haven that is Niagara-on-the-Lake. At the time, I was delighted to find such a sweet little piece of pretty outside a high-end home goods shop. It seemed like a cute gesture on the part of the owners. Clever marketing, thoughtful. There’s even a fresh, live, flower. Lucky dogs!
But then, I also realized how I’d been struggling with my stroller to get in and out of nearly every tiny, over-packed store. Whenever I have a hard time with the stroller, I immediately think of people who use wheelchairs and scooters. If it’s a hassle for me, I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be for them. In a place like NOTL, there’s more wheelchairs and walkers than there are strollers, believe me.
Here’s the next layer. I live a blessed life. We are far richer in spirit than we are in our bank account, but we can make ends meet. The store that extended such a thoughtful gesture for the four-legged companions of their customers is way beyond my means, and frankly, even if I had that kind of spending cash, I can’t imagine ever throwing it around it in such a place. Which makes me think of the people who aren’t as lucky as me. Who stay up at night wondering how they’ll make their very limited resources feed their kids. They barely have enough, and every month is a struggle in making the most of very, very little.
Which sends my thoughts across the globe. Where people in plastic boats are drowning with their children because all they want is a safe life for their families. They live each day in terror, not just in Syria, but in so many other places. Here’s their reality; an over-packed dingy that cost them their life savings and may mean the death of everyone they love is a better alternative to the place they once called home. There is no sense of ‘home’ or ‘safety’ for so many of our brothers and sisters out there.
Never mind their fucking dogs.
So, what to do? Do I hate myself for my initial delight in this pretty display of hospitality. No, I can’t. I’m an artist – when I see something lovely, I like it. However, lovely and beautiful are not the same thing, and it’s what’s beneath the initial impression of loveliness that really counts for something. It’s pretty, I smiled, but what else is in there? How can this relatively shallow gesture mean something more? How can a ploy to lure in customers turn into something greater?
It starts like this, I think. With our ability to reflect, ask questions, examine our own position, our values, the meaning behind everything that moves us either to smile or to weep in desperation and helplessness. Enjoy the silver platter, but be damned well sure you know how lucky you are that you can, and then add your voice to those who want so much more for everyone else. Our world is shrinking, and we have more power as a people than we ever have before. It’s fine to appreciate the snapshots of pretty that turn our heads and lift our spirits, but let’s be more. We can all be so much more.