Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Importance of Contrasts

Do you start the day with a smile? Or a frown? Or something in between? Many argue that attitude affects life. Some go so far as to say that life, itself, is a creation of our minds which, if true, would stress even more the significance of a positive or negative perspective.

The adage, "Variety is the spice of life," comes to mind. Someone who has never loved a person, an animal, an occupation, or a pastime probably cannot know the depths of despair into which a rejected lover can descend or understand the high the lover experiences when a new love blooms. Someone who thinks his or her life is a continuous stream of happiness cannot truly know the joy of a good day that follows a bad.

Have you noticed the rash of gratitude lists that appear in the month of November, often under the guise of "mindfulness?"

Virginia says, "I'm grateful for my partner, my pet, my children, my thoughtful neighbors, the rising and falling sun, the multitude of stars in the heavens, my heart, my lungs, my smooth skin, my rich lips, my low cholesterol reading, my indoor water faucets, my clean underwear, and my ability to gather, cut and split firewood. Or maybe, I'm grateful for my productive laying chickens; our recent warm spring, summer and fall; my kind, thoughtful friends; our home-grown meals; our healthy livestock; our gentle animals; our bountiful pasture; our large stack of split firewood; and our elderly, ever-loving dog."

Yes, it is good to be mindful of those things. To be truly mindful, it's also good to remember the things that did not make these lists.

Virginia says, "I think I know what you're up to. You have a feeling many readers have not recognized the subtle intellectualism of your most significant other."

Perhaps. I'm not grateful having to leave my cozy couch to trek a hundred yards through a brisk wind to close up the chickens for the night; meddlesome folks offering uninvited advice; hypocritical eaters who only buy feedlot meats and coconut milk that have traveled thousands of miles to the dinner table, killing countless living creatures along the way; sick goats and donkeys that make me feel guilty for not calling a vet; a milking machine that stutters in frosty weather; hunting for hay in late winter; the filth firewood drops on its way to the wood stove or the obstinacy of a cold hearth; and a whiney pet that follows me everywhere; or the fact that her blog is more interesting and much more popular than mine: [Actually, I do like that.]

"Ouch," says Virginia.

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