Gratitude

Sometimes I like to take a step back and just objectively scan my life. I find it’s a good way to make sure I’m doing things I enjoy, things that are worthy, that I’m internally and externally pursuing things that will matter to me long-term. I self-assess, if you will. 

Well, today, as is the case with many days, it just hit me. I was driving back from a week spent in Byron Bay on work.

[A note on Byron BayByron is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else, even though it’s a prime tourist destination for backpackers and pretty much anyone between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five who have ever visited Australia. It’s also the most laid-back, organic, homegrown grassroots kind of place I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. Need a yoga/surf/massage vacation? Visit Byron. Hate wearing shoes and love sporting dreadlocks? Visit Byron. Been craving some lentil-couscous-kale vegetarian cuisine? Visit Byron. Need your chakras aligned? Visit Byron. Need to find your soul? Visit Byron. Need to smoke a joint while you’re at it? Visit Byron.

It’s a prime destination and I love going there. Although filled with drum circles, VW buses full of campers and travelling vagabonds, it’s the kind of place that’s somehow retained the small-town local feel, and I love it for that.]

     

   

I was sent there for a week of rural work for the company I’m with. I travel to local schools presenting sessions on financial literacy to elementary-age children. It’s a cool, fun job and the kids treat you like a rockstar. (Especially after they realize you’re American... an incredibly novelty.)

Perks of my job: incredible flexibility, having time to teach violin lessons in the afternoons, getting to travel through different parts of this gorgeous country, meeting kids, seeing the next generation and their inspiring zest for learning, you get the idea…

ANYWAY, so I’m driving through rural Australia and it looks something like this:

    

And this:

     

In the more open areas, fields stretch for as far as you can see. It’s just brown and varied shades of green.

And the realization hits me, that this is real. This is my life. The sheer weight of it was so overwhelming that I had to pull over just to take it in. It seemed laughable. Having an incredible job, living in one of the most beautiful places in the world… it sounds paltry when articulated.

This has been such a huge momentous transition, and incredibly scary at times. A lot of the time, actually. Sometimes when I think about spending Christmas without my family, and missing birthdays or weddings, it still is. But all the risk, all the fear, all the stress… It’s been so worth it. So, so worth it.

I’m not even sure what my main point is here. When faced with a chance, risk it. If faced with a choice, choose the higher path. Choose what scares you. If you’re up against a cliff, jump! I mean all of those things. And trust me, it’s easier said than done.

More than anything though, I’m just simply grateful. Overwhelmingly, purely grateful for the way things have and continue to turn out. Did I ever imagine myself where I am, doing what I’m doing? NO. And I’m stunned that my life looks the way it does.

I’m grateful for these experiences, and these opportunities, all so different than what I would be faced with elsewhere. 

Cultivating gratitude is a worthwhile exercise. It’s all too easy to forget about everything we should be thankful for. Lately, though, I’ve found that I don’t have to work hard in this practice. The stark outline of everything I have to be grateful for pretty much hits me in the face on a daily basis. 

   

   Surfers in the Byron Bay morning waves

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder

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