When the chaos of the world threatens to overwhelm, it is time to count your blessings
My guess is that this Sunday morning, as you sit down with your first cup of chai/coffee, you are a wee bit fed up of all the bad news that seems to be playing out on surround sound in our world. The Sensex has crashed, Pakistan persists in sending terrorists across to India, onion prices keep soaring into the stratosphere, the monsoon is failing, and murder mysteries get murkier and murkier with every re-telling.
But in case the universe seems to have stopped making sense, pause for a minute, breathe in, exhale, and take a minute to count your blessings. For that’s what I intend to do this morning: tot up all the many things that I have to be thankful for. Feel free to join in; trust me, it will make you feel much better about yourself and the world we live in.
Okay, first up is health. If you are on the wrong side of forty, you may have a few niggling worries on that score. Your cholesterol count may be high, your blood pressure may be elevated slightly, your knees and back giving you a bit of trouble, and sore on and sore forth. But step back and look at the bigger picture. You are still alive and kicking. You haven’t lost the use of your limbs or indeed your brain. The rest of it is just detail, which can be ironed out with a new fitness regime. So render thanks for the fact that you are still around – and still standing (if only just!).
A close second comes family. It doesn’t matter how big or small this is, whether it is extended or nuclear, dysfunctional or perfect, related by blood or marriage. As long as there are people in it who love you and are, in turn, loved by you, there is a lot to be thankful for. You may be in daily touch with them; or you may not have spoken to them in months. But so long as you know that there are people out there who care for you and will drop everything to be by your side if you need them (as you would for them) then you are blessed indeed.
Next up are your friends. No, not the ones you list on Facebook, whose status updates and pictures you faithfully ‘like’ every time you log on. Not the ones on Twitter who respond to your every sally with a smiley face emoji. Not the ones you meet on the cocktail circuit, all air kisses and false intimacy. Not the ones who are cultivating you for whatever benefit they can leech off you, all the while telling you how absolutely amazing you are. No, not those ‘friends’.
The friends you should be grateful for are the ones who see you for what you are, accept you with all your flaws, and love and support you regardless. These are the ones who will answer truthfully when you ask if you ass looks enormous in these jeans. They are the ones who will pick up the phone at 3 am in the morning if you find yourself in a spot of bother. They are the ones who will attack you to your face and defend you behind your back (rather than the other way round). If you have even one of those then consider yourself truly blessed.
That’s the big stuff. But there is also a lot of small stuff that makes us feel truly blessed, if only we would stop to think about. In my case, the list goes something like this:
• A room of my own: That was something I longed for growing up as the youngest in a joint family. The ability to retreat into a space that was completely my own, where nobody could intrude without my express permission. A place where I could be alone with my thoughts, my books, my music, or simply with myself. When I finally moved to another city to live on my own, the sense of freedom I felt was something quite indescribable. Even today, when I no longer live alone, it feels like a blessing to be able to retreat into my own space when I want to.
• Books, books, and books: I often think that if I were ever to wash up on a deserted island, I would be quite content so long as it had a stash of my favourite books and a soft pillow to rest my head on! But more seriously, while I could easily cope without a TV or even an internet connection, even the thought of living in a world without books sends a shiver up my spine.
• An evening at home: The social whirl is not for me. My idea of the perfect evening is pottering around in the kitchen to make something simple for dinner, eating it with family as we chat about the day, following up with some quality time with a box set of one of my favourite TV shows, and then reading myself to sleep. And, of course, counting my blessings, as the lights go out.