Sunday, May 16, 2010

135 / Gratitude

Today's "Star Report" in the San Jose Mercury News (the actual hard copy, printed version) has Woody Allen complaining about death (and life):

"The only way that you can be happy is if you tell yourself some lies and deceive yourself....You look at life too honestly and clearly, life does become unbearable."
Allen cites to Freud, Nietzsche, and Eugene O'Neill as authority for this rather dismal conclusion about life.

You don't have to be Woody Allen to experience angst, and I have had my moments. Hey, haven't we all? What's the remedy though, if you can't be rich and famous (not that being rich and famous, and even talented - witness Allen - is a cure for the disease)?

In the last several years, I have decided that "gratitude" is the only antidote for the angst that is such an inevitable part of our our human existence. Bob Dylan's song Mississippi has some real comfort, containing a verse with which I completely identify:

Well my ship’s been split to splinters and it’s sinkin' fast
I’m drownin’ in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it’s light and it’s free
I’ve got nothin’ but affection for all those who’ve sailed with me
As I read it, at least, that verse more or less defines an attitude of gratitude towards our real life situation. It does look "honestly" at life, and angst is not the resulting conclusion.

As I contemplated the "Star Report" this morning, I also realized that an attitude of gratitude towards life may also be linked to an appreciation of the natural world. Two songs of gratitude came immediately to mind, "Gracias a la Vida," and an old religious song, "For The Beauty Of The Earth."

If we think only of the world that we create, angst does so often seem to be an appropriate response to our life lived there. But looking at life from within the perspective of the world into which we are so privileged to be born, the world of Nature, the world we don't create, can we be anything but grateful?

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