Gratitude is Not a Platitude

Judith Campbell
Published on: July 2012
There is nothing like a health scare to make you appreciate life and all its wonders. It hap-pened to me this week. I was sitting at work when I leaned down to get something out of my bag, lost my balance and fell head-first on to the floor. No injuries, but two weeks later I developed a headache - and I'm someone who NEVER has a headache.
It wasn't any old headache I had; this was a particularly friendly headache. We went to bed together and woke up together. We hung around all day together. After we'd been co-habiting for three days, I started to feel nervous. On the fourth day, I began to panic. What if I had an aneurysm? Didn't people die after a seemingly innocent bump on the head? Was that going to happen to me?

It was enough to send me straight to the emergency room of the local hospital, where I was given a battery of neurological tests, followed by a brain scan. Waiting for the results of medical tests has to be one of the most stressful things known to man. I tried to be positive and focus on HEALTH, rather than on aneurysms, hemorrhages and death. It worked! A smiling doctor told me the scan was clear and that I was suffering from Post-Concussion Syndrome - nothing serious.

When you have been given a reprieve from a possible death sentence, things change. Walking out the hospital, I was bursting with joy. I had a smile that stretched from one ear to the other. I felt overwhelming gratitude for my life and everything in it. Problems vanished. Who cared if the washing machine was broken? I was ALIVE, wasn't I?

The world around me suddenly became a magical place. I went for a cup of coffee and it seemed the most marvelous thing. The shape of the cup was so beautiful, the froth of milk on top so light and airy. I thought of the incredible effort that had gone into that one cup of coffee - the nurturing of the coffee plant, the tending of the cow, the design of the cup, the people involved, the processing, packaging, transportation ... I closed my eyes and said "thank you." I took a slow sip and the flavours exploded in my mouth. Coffee had never tasted so good.

As I walked home, all my senses were heightened. Everything seemed bursting with vibrant life. Flowers bloomed all around and the exquisiteness of their forms, colours, fragility, complexity and endless variations took my breath away. I was seeing them - really seeing them - as though for the very first time and I felt overwhelmed by the magnificence of this beautiful planet of ours. It started to rain slightly and I lifted my face to it, appreciating the coolness. Then the sun reappeared and with it came the most stunningly vivid rainbow, stretching right over the town ahead of me. I stopped and just gazed at it in sheer wonderment for at least five minutes. I had never seen one so beautiful.
I understood during that enchanted walk from the hospital that everything is a miracle. The sun is a miracle. Moonlight is a miracle. The machine that scanned my brain is a miracle. The people who invented it are miracles. Every single thing that grows is a miracle, not least ourselves. I used to think I was an appreciative person, but that evening I realised just how often I took so many things for granted. My health scare and its happy outcome propelled me on to a whole new level of appreciation and gratitude for everything - everything - that surrounded me. Hot water coming out of a tap - how amazing is that? A bee - an engineering marvel! Electricity - astonishing!

My headache has gone now, but the gratitude remains. We shouldn't need a health scare to remind us how lucky we are. Our world has always been a magical place, but how often do we take the time to notice? So please - today, really look, think about and wonder at your world. It should blow your mind. Saying "thank you" is the least we can do.
On a scale of 1-10, how inspiring did you find this article?