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“It is enough that a human being is alive!”, a wise man once cried.
One evening, A famous violinist was in New York to play a concert. As a child, the violinist had been stricken with polio and getting on stage is no small feat for him. He wears braces on both legs and walks with two crutches. He crossed the stage painfully slowly, until he reached the chair in which he seated himself to play.
As soon as the already tired musician appeared on stage that night, the audience applauded and then waited respectfully as he made his way slowly across the stage. He took his seat, signaled to the conductor, and began to play.
No sooner had he finished the first few bars than one of the strings on his violin snapped like a gunshot. At that point it was still close enough to the beginning of the piece that it would have been reasonable to bring the concert to a halt while he replaced the string to begin again. But that’s not what he did. He waited a moment and then signaled the conductor to pick up just where they had left off.
He now had only three strings with which to play his soloist part. He was able to find some of the missing notes on adjoining strings, but where that wasn’t possible, he had to rearrange the music on the spot in his head so that it all still held together.
He played with passion and artistry, spontaneously rearranging the symphony right through to the end. When he finally rested his bow, the audience sat for a moment in stunned silence. And then they rose to their feet and cheered wildly. They knew they had been witness to an extraordinary display of human skill and ingenuity.
After the standing ovation, the man signaled for quiet. “You know,” he said, “sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much beautiful music you can still make with what you have left.”
We have to wonder, was he speaking of his violin strings or his crippled body? And is it true only for artists? We are all lacking something, and so we are all challenged to answer the question:
Do we have the attitude of making something of beauty out of what we do have, incomplete as it may be?
If you’ve lost your job, but you still have your family and health, you have something to be grateful for.
If you can’t move around except in a wheelchair but your mind is as sharp as ever, you have something to be grateful for.
When you open up to gratitude, you see clearly and accurately how much good there is in your life. Gratitude affirms. Those things you are lacking are still there, and in reaching for gratitude no one is saying you ought to put on rose-colored glasses to obscure those shortcomings. But most of us tend to focus so heavily on the negative in our lives that we barely perceive the good that counterbalances them.
There is no limit to what we don’t have and if that is where we put our focus, then our lives will inevitably be filled with endless dissatisfaction. When you live charged with gratitude, you will give thanks for anything or anyone who has benefited you, whether they meant to or not. Say, “Thank You!” when the driver in the car next to you lets you merge without protest, or when the water flows from the tap, or the food is exceptable?
When gratitude is this well established, it is a sign of a heart that has been made right and whole. Gratitude can’t coexist with arrogance, resentment, and selfishness. So be grateful for everything you have, everything from your next breath to the sun, clouds, rain and stars. Just be grateful. When, and only when, we are grateful for each and everything that we have, the universe will give you exactly what you need.