It’s spring! The first bear was spotted up and out of his den this week here in the Rockies. Naturally, everyone is breaking out their tanks and shorts, stocking up on their bear spray and starting their summer planning.
This winter has been relatively mild compared to others on record. I arrived last year just as the spring season was winding down and summer was on the horizon, it was beautiful, but there wasn’t much visual change to the environment at that point. Being here as winter begins to breathe its last breaths is phenominal. It’s as though all this new life is seemingly coming from no where. One day it is winter deadness, the next the spring awakening. You can hear the sound of fresh running water from every direction as the snow melts into tiny streams that flow into the rivers, which all winter have bubbled quietly beneath mammoth layers of ice and snow.
I’ve been practicing gratitude as part of my daily routine for the last few months. By practicing gratitude, I mean intentionally reminding myself of all the things and people that I am blessed to have in my life, and not just being personally aware, but actively making other people aware of how thankful I am for them as well.
Nothing has changed my mindset as much as simply being thankful.
When I first started dating Kat, I began a habit without even being aware if it. I had become so pessimistic and cynical about relationships and outcomes and futures involving other people. So, when Kat came along I was naturally thankful, and even hypervigilant to all the things she did, and was, that I appreciated.
I started telling her every night before we drifted off to sleep,
Thanks for your humor
Thanks for your time
Thanks for your patience
Every night it was different, a new thing I was grateful for. It became a routine in which I wouldn’t fall to sleep without a thank you.
She always responded in her very deliberate, slow, meaningful English,
“Thanks for you, Raff.”
Just that. Thanks for you.
And then the habit carried over into my daily life. I began telling friends, aquaintances, coffee shop baristas that I appreciated them. There really is, in any situation, something to be thankful for.
But, that doesn’t mean, in some moments it isn’t really difficult to see those things which you are grateful for.
I had one of those moments last night. I had texted someone (In the interest of full disclosure, drunk texted someone) something along the lines of wishing things had gone very differently than they had.
The gist of the response I got was that things played out the way they were meant to. That it taught a lot of lessons. That it was a growing process.
My immediate, emotional response, the one I’ve learned to keep to myself until I can view it later under the lense of rationality, was to wish they could have learned their lessons through another person. Because, if we’re talking lessons then they themself were just a refresher test- one that I didn’t really need. I’d already been through the course several times before.
But my response wasn’t fair. Yes, I’d been through it before, but the truth is that the entirety of a relationship doesn’t boil down to one lesson from one mistake. In the same way, one mistake does not negate all the other lessons that were learned. There were so many things I grew up and through during that time and I would never be here, right now, if it hadn’t happened. And I am so thankful to be here.
So, I guess that’s another step towards just moving on. Looking back and saying, “Well, shit, that really sucked, but look at me now. Look how far I’ve come as a result of that catalyst.” is a real part of growing up. I’m certainly not asking to be plunked back there and to do it all over again, I’m just appreciating the things that it proved to me, the perspectives that I didn’t have before, the growth.
It’s spring, everything is growing.