Our lives are constantly changing.   Some days everything seems to be going our way:  we get all the lucky breaks, make all the green lights, get the parking place right up front, find money in a coat pocket.  Other days, not so much:  someone breaks up with us, we lose our job, get into an accident, break our favorite gadget.

It’s easy to feel gratitude on those good days.  We are grateful because good things are happening, and we like that!  If we are to be serious about our gratitude practice, however, we must also learn to be genuinely grateful on those not-so-great days.

We can start by being grateful EVEN THOUGH all that “bad” stuff is happening; we can find other, better, things to focus on and be grateful for.  Eventually, though, we can learn to be grateful BECAUSE those things are happening.  We can, if we so choose, learn to find the blessing in any situation.  The secret is to learn to stand our ground without resisting what is.

I’ve lived by the sea most of my life.  It’s where I go when I need to think. It’s also where I go when I need not to think.   I’ve spent a lot of time playing in the surf, walking the shoreline, and staring out to sea.   I’ve learned to read the ocean as a huge metaphor for this thing called Life.   Although I tend to go to the same stretch of beach every day  …  just as I live the same life every day … there is one thing that I have come to expect about both the ocean and life: every day is completely different.

Some days the sea is glassy and calm.  The waves lap the shore gently, like a kitten licking up milk.  On those days, even the smallest of kids can safely play in the shallow water without fear of being knocked over or swept out to sea. Along with all that safety, however, comes a hefty dose of boredom … kind of like what happens to many of us when our lives become too uneventful. Ironically, days when the beach is safest tend to be the days when it is most deserted.

On other days, however, the waves crash into the shore with so much force that if we’re not careful we can easily get knocked down.  If the waves come in too frequently we may not have time to catch our breath before we get hit again with the next wave.  This, too, happens to us in life: sometimes new things come into our lives (which is nice), but then too many new things start coming into our lives too quickly (which can be overwhelming).

Then there are days that the ocean looks deceptively safe with moderate waves hitting the beach at a leisurely interval.  When we get into the water, however, we discover a strong rip current under the surface, pulling everything out to sea. These are the most dangerous days of all; they are like the times in our life when some unseen force seems to be taking everything away from us.  I’ve had times like this, some quite recently, where I seemed to lose everything.  I lost a relationship, a job, my home, money, friends … everything, all at once.

On days when there is a strong undertow, the only safe thing to do is to keep both feet firmly planted in the ever-shifting sand and just let the sea take whatever it will.   Eventually it will become sated and stop.  If you drop something into the water and the sea tries to take it, just let it go.  If you give up your footing to go after it, you risk getting swept out to sea, where you could drown in just a few feet of water.

There will be times in life when everything you have seems to be getting swept out to sea. When that happens, stand your ground and just let it go.  Like the tide, life has it’s own rhythm of ebb and flow.  Things and people come into our lives, and things and people leave our lives, often before we are ready.  Be grateful for the having of them, and also for the letting go, for it is all part of this delicious cycle we call Life.