I’ve been giving a lot of thought the last couple of weeks to “thinking outside the box” and one observation I’ve made is that I tend to dwell on the negative. It’s easy to do, especially during winter and especially for a summer-and-fall person like myself. This, however, has shadowed all four seasons for many years, so I can’t blame cabin fever or the winter blues. “Count your blessings every day; that will chase the blues away,” someone told me once. Yes, some of the most cheerful people I know are “blessings counters.” I used to be one myself. But somewhere amid the chaos, uncertainty, and busyness of life I lost sight of the magic my world once held and forgot how truly blessed I am. I decided to make a conscious effort to rediscover the beauty and blessedness of this place I call home and to view life in general through different eyes.
One morning I left for work later than usual. Highway construction and slews of traffic had turned the freeway into a parking lot and I fumed as I jockeyed for a space in the traffic lane. Finally I edged in, and as the snail’s-pace trek into town began, the sun peeped over a distant mountain. The sky glowed pink and gold, and as the awakening rays shot into the sky a nearby cloudbank erupted into flaming red shades streaked with indigo blue. Puffy clouds illumined in orange protruded in rows from the cloud’s base, while wispy mares’ tails streaked with orange fanned out on the breeze. Such a breathtaking scene—and, of course, I’d left my camera home! I made a mental note not to let that happen again but then congratulated myself. I had taken a step toward acting on my new perspective and allowed that glorious sunrise, painted by God’s creative hand, to lift my spirits and point me to the positive. Better yet, that upbeat attitude stayed with me the entire day.
Another blessing I enjoy is this region’s beauty (which brings up still another blessing: the gift of sight). Within two hundred miles in any direction I can find mountains, sand dunes, rivers, canyons filled with red rock pillars, and old mining towns. If my schedule does not allow a drive to the country, a beautiful park in the heart of the city offers an equally quiet retreat replete with ponds, woods, and wildlife. “Just take a minute. Open your eyes and look around, like you used to do,” I tell myself. And when I do, I see the magic never left. The needle on my positive meter jumps another point.
It doesn’t take much effort to look around at the world we live in; but life’s demands can blind the eyes and cloud the thoughts. I used to take quiet walks in the evening, and I always noticed the distant hills or a grove of trees or the ducks that swam alongside as I walked beside a canal. I would drive into the country just to watch Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams melt into the purple haze as the sun went down. Regardless of how hectic the day I knew peace. I walked with God. I slept well at night. Then life happened and I had to take a job in a bigger town in another state. Plunged into a lifestyle more hectic than I had known before, I lost my focus and let circumstances toss me around like a rudderless ship on a raging sea. Now, however, I am reclaiming what I lost. I step outside and see again the distant hills, and the clouds as they ride the wind. But even more than this I treasure the blessing of a warm and loving family. These dear people have stayed with me through good times and bad. When I hit a slump they offer support, encouragement or, when words fail, a comforting hand on my shoulder. When I celebrate they rejoice with me. I take none of them for granted, for I could lose any or all of them in an instant.
All of the aforementioned may seem trivial or commonplace, but when I stopped and took a good look I realized they are not. I also realize how very rich I am in wealth not measurable by dollars and cents.
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