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Stormy Day

Silent gratitude isn’t very much use to anyone.

~ Gertrude Stein

Start: Today, I had a gratitude adjustment.

We’ve all heard about the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut today. I won’t recount or reframe the event, and I’m sure we all have our own thoughts.

I’m going through a “rough patch” in my life right now. It’s personal, I won’t burden you, but the ugly events at Sandy Hook Elementary hypnotized me for a while today, and it was enough to sink in and recalibrate my outlook.

Good Lord — compared to these poor folks in Newtown, Connecticut — these people whose every single moment from this morning on is a waking nightmare — my life is a festival, a feast, a rose garden.

It reminded me to keep gratitude close, and remember it always.

Yes, this is gratitude of the, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet” variety. But any gratitude is better than no gratitude at all.

Today I went out for errands. My last stop was at a nearby Wal-Mart (yeah, I shop at Wal-Mart — don’t judge me). I was standing at the end of a very long pharmacy pickup line, and a older woman rolled up just behind me, having to angle her cart so that she wasn’t blocking the aisle. She made an annoyed noise that clued me in that she wanted to engage someone in conversation, someone she didn’t know from Adam (that is, me) and, as I suspected, wanted to vent.

“This is the second time I’ve had to go through this line today,” she said.

I frankly wasn’t interested in hearing anyone complaining about their lives at that moment, on that day so overshadowed by the senseless slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary that gripped the whole nation in astonished shock, so I paused inside momentarily, turned to her, and said, “Look at the good side. You aren’t one of those poor people in Connecticut who won’t have a chance to go through a line ever again.”

I think I surprised her a bit, but she answered, plainly, “Yes. You’re right.”

We made some small talk about the events of the day, and I killed a little time checking Facebook on my Blackberry (yeah, I use a Blackberry — don’t judge me), and eventually I reached the little sign that basically said, “Wait here until you’re called.”

The pharmacy cashier called me up, and the older woman didn’t wait at the little sign and parked herself fairly close behind me. I find this a little rude in general, and to some degree an intrusion in my personal space, but today I was going to be grateful and decided I would not get as annoyed at this particular space invader as I normally would.

When I finished my transaction and was starting to walk off, I heard a, “Hey mister.” I paused for a moment, and was about to move on, and there it was again, a little more insistently: “Hey mister!”

I turned, and there was my space invader, and she looked straight in my eyes and said, “Mister, I wanted to thank you for reminding me to be grateful.”

Stormy Day

Today, I had a gratitude adjustment, and better, I inspired (albeit in a slightly clumsy way) a gratitude adjustment in someone else. And it sounded like she needed it, too.

If I can do it, you can too.

Pass it on.

• • •

Copyright © 2012, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.


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Daniel Brenton is the creator/author of the 5 Second Novel series, co-author of the space race thriller Red Moon (with David S. Michaels), and is the author of the satirical column The Round Files, published in Stuart Miller’s short-lived Alien Worlds Magazine.

Despite being a writer, Daniel has no cats at this time, is unwilling to become an alcoholic, and has a very difficult time keeping a straight face while writing about himself in third person.

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