If you love something that somebody does – some art, some words, some sounds – you tell them that you love it. You tell everyone how much you love it, repeatedly and enthusiastically. Don’t save your appreciation for later, or worry about wearing people out with your passion. Because the happy truth is this: If a piece of art truly moves you, you will never, ever run out of new adjectives to express how much you love it. Getting to love someone’s art is one of the very finest parts of being alive.
There is a difference between saying goodbye and letting go. Goodbye is not permanent. You can meet years later and share what happened in your life. You can smile and laugh about all the nonsense that you both went through. However, letting go is being okay with never seeing this person ever again…being okay with never knowing how their life turned out…being okay with fifty or more years of silence…being okay with running into that person at a grocery store and having them not acknowledge your presence. This is the part of life that doesn't sit well with me and never will. It tears my heart in pieces, robs me of gratitude, drains me of anything positive and eats at the faith that holds on.
Then the cook enters and approaches our table. He bows low before me. He is grateful to me, he explains, because since his years as a cook in a Buddhist monastery, he has had little opportunity to cook vegetarian food for anyone who appreciates it. The wild mushrooms, he tells me, were picked in a nearby forest. The greens are from gardens known for the quality of their vegetables. . . . He bows slowly, and thanks me once again. I stumble over my own words of gratitude as he quietly disappears into the kitchen. I never see him again. I didn't sleep that night. The cook's reverence and humility sliced through years of protective hardness and caught me without warning. His food was saturated with love, and its nurturance was almost too much to bear.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.