I know a few people who are always talking about blessings. It’s such a blessing that your baby was born healthy. It’s such a blessing that you found a new job so quickly after you were laid off. Having good friends is such a blessing. It always feels vaguely religious to me, perhaps because the people I know who say it are on the born again side of Christianity. At sixty-eight, I no longer criticize anyone’s beliefs … although I may avoid their evangelism … but still, I rarely use the phrase. In 12-Step programs, I often hear an unexpectedly good turn of events called a God-Shot. Carl Jung calls the fortuitous benefits of seemingly unconnected events synchronicity, which has the benefit of not requiring anyone to do the blessing. For much of my life, I let blessings … God-shots … synchronicity … pass by unnoticed. I was willing to take complete credit for most of my successes and the rest were luck.
Taking things for granted is a very human trait, and I think the more blessed we are the easier it is to do just that. It is also easy to lose sight of just how fortunate we are in comparison to others when we are very blessed. When Oprah Winfrey tries to inspire us by saying, The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work … or publicizes nonsense like The Secret … she ignores her intelligence and charisma (not to mention unique opportunities), blessings that aren’t bestowed on everyone. When Magic Johnson says, You’re the only one who can make the difference. Whatever your dream is, go for it, he’s trying to be inspiring, too. But the truth is, his achievement was based on the blessing of extraordinary basketball skills. Most of us are better off following the advice of Aldous Huxley: Dream in a pragmatic way. Less romantic, certainly, but there aren’t many five-eight old guys in the NBA and no matter how willing I am to work, I’ll never be the most powerful woman in entertainment.
I have a good friend who works very hard to make ends meet. Even though he is just a little younger than I am, last winter, he took a job in oil fields of North Dakota in order to earn some extra money. It was hard physical work in the brutal cold and the living accommodations he’d been promised were dreadful. While he was working, he aggravated a knee injury and when decent housing was not available, he reluctantly gave up and came home. During a pre-op examination before knee surgery, the doctor noticed an arrhythmia in his heart beat and sent him to a cardiologist, who put him in the hospital immediately to get a pacemaker. During heart surgery, they discovered unrepairable damage to the blood vessels around his heart and did a bypass. He still works hard to make ends meet but his health is good. My friend calls the experience a God-shot, not just because he didn’t have a heart attack on the tundra of North Dakota, but because without the whole experience, he’d probably have found the cardiologist after a major heart attack … if he survived it. To me, that’s a way of looking at life that’s a lot more inspiring than Magic Johnson or Oprah Winfrey.
So, at sixty-eight, I’ve come to believe in God and I’m inclined to believe that God is involved in our lives, although the details of that involvement escape me. And I know that I am indeed Blessed. I hope that comes across in what I post here, in spite of Bud Dark and my Inner Curmudgeon. But beyond knowing, it’s important for me to stop periodically and notice … even write down … the ways in which I’m Blessed.
How are you Blessed?