Tis the season to focus on Gratitude.
Gratitude is something I try to practice regularly.
But it is not always easy.
Often times, though, it's easy to be grateful for some things
and more challenging to be grateful for others.
It's more challenging to be grateful for stuff when you are going through a really tough time.
It's more challenging to be grateful when you don't know the answers or what to do next.
It's more challenging to be grateful when someone you love is really sick.
It's more challenging to be grateful when things aren't going your way at all.
It's more challenging to be grateful when you are having to work really hard for something and it looks like no fruit will come from all of your toil.
A story from my Art School days...
Some of those lessons were not always easy to learn.
One of my professors told me point blank once, "Court, you are not the most talented student I have. You're not even the most gifted in this class. But you are really creative and I can see that you want this, so you are going to have to work."
It was a hard thing to hear. It was a true thing to hear. I did want to be an artist so badly, with everything in me, I wanted to make visual art. I didn't want to do anything else!
Blargh! How could I want to do something that I am not good at?
I took the words to heart and put myself to work. I realized that I had so much to learn and I had to focus and really see differently, train my hands, train my eyes, learn techniques, and study.
It's hard to be grateful for a piece of truth that hits
like a sack of potatoes.
I did everything I could. I put in tons of hours...TONS.
The art department awards were coming up.
I was nervous at the awards ceremony. I told myself it was fine if I didn't get anything, I had worked really hard, but it was fine. I was fine. I was going to be fine. I tried really hard to detach from the hope of receiving some recognition for all of my hard work. I didn't want to hope...
...but I really couldn't help myself from hoping quite a lot.
Each discipline had it's own award category. They rattled off the disciplines and the names of the recipients of each award.
Drawing. Nope, nothing there.
Painting. Nope, nothing there either.
My hope dwindled.
Every discipline went by, some of my fellow students had even been recognized in multiple categories.
I was recognized in none.
I had worked harder that year than I ever had up to that point. I sat in my chair, trying to choke back my emotions. The last thing I wanted was for anyone to think of me as upset because other people had been honored and not me. That wasn't really what it was about.
It was more about the fact that I had this dream and, now, sitting in a plastic chair at my department awards ceremony, I didn't quite know what to think of that dream any more. Maybe that dream was a curse. Maybe it was a fantasy. I just really didn't know.
I held onto my chair and sat still and unmoving. I stared at the speaker, trying to concentrate. He was saying something about another student. I guessed that there was another recipient. I ran through my mind...no, all of the departments had been mentioned, every single one of them.
What other award could there be?
It was my professor. He talked on and on about some student who was exemplary in their discipline. Yada, yada. Some student who had really gone the extra mile. Blah, blah, blah. I wanted this whole thing to be over so that I could head back to my room and consider dropping out of school. He then announced that the last award would now be given.
It was an award from the entire department. This was the 'Ultimate Art Department Award'.
I am certain that is not the official title of the award, but he was building it up so much he may as well have called it that....
...then the girl next to me is hitting my arm.
People sitting around me turn towards me clapping and smiling.
I had been lost in my own sad thoughts that I didn't even realize that they had called my name!
Yes, I had been sitting there feeling sorry for myself and I missed the fact that I had just won the Art Department Award.
Talk about overwhelming humility.