For now, this is the thing.
“If people would but do what they have to do, they would always find themselves ready for what came next.”*
In his book The Little Book of Hygge Meik Wiking says of his work, ‘I study happiness. Each day I try to answer one question: why are some people happier than others?’** Wiking has been connecting gratitude and meaning, noticing how these produce happiness.
‘More than anything, savouring is about gratitude. […] It is about keeping in mind that you live right now, allowing yourself to focus on the moment and appreciate the life you lead, to focus on all that you do have, and not what you don’t. Clichés? Totally.’**
Gratitude is about noticing what is, getting close up and immersing ourselves in the moment. Hugh Macleod writes about being like water, taking the shape of whatever changes come:
‘Making yourself the flexible aspect doesn’t mean you’re giving up – it means you’re leaning in.’^
I’ve been contemplating Wallace Stevens’ thoughts on how the artist brings their imagination to the face the “pressure of reality.” He says this of adaptation:
[The artist] must be able to abstract himself and also to abstract reality, which he does by placing it in his imagination… It imperative for him to make a choice, to come to a decision regarding the imagination and reality; and he will find that it is not a choice of one over the other and not a decision that divides them, but something subtler, a recognition that here, too, as between these poles, the universal interdependence exists, and hence his choice and his decision must be that they are equal and inseparable.^^
This artist – and we are all artists in some way or other – doesn’t hide from the pressure of reality but seeks to be present to it in such a way as to imagine a new possibility. There is gratefulness here, too. Erwin McManus proffers:
‘No truth, no matter how profound, will find its way into a heart that is absent of gratitude.’*^
Gratitude provides us with a sound, leak-free container in which to receive and hold on to more of this moment, making it possible to move into the new moment in a more complete way.
Erich Fromm reminds us, though, none of us are completely “leak-free,” we’re all broken:
‘There is nothing in the patient that is not in me.’^*
We heal a little more as become present to the moment through all we are and have, making it possible to be present to the next moment as more and with more.
(*George MacDonald, quoted in the Northumbria Community’s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Meik Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge.)
(^From gapingvoid’s blog: Fluid is the New Flexible.)
(^^From Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Wallace Stevens on Reality, Creativity, and Our Greatest Self-Protection from the Pressure of the News.)
(*^From Erwin McManus’ Uprising.)
(^*From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Listening.)