Lessons in Gratitude

Interconnectedness, awareness. Buzzwords in mindfulness practice, yet poignant and significant. We never know what lessons our universe has in store for us…

I met a man named Bill and his 11-year-old dog, Sullivan, last week.

             I stood outside of the local animal clinic with my pet cat, Tavvy, waiting for the door to unlock. A car drove up and a man asked, “Do you know if they’re open?” I said, “They open at 10:00.” He paused and replied, “See if the door is unlocked.” I’d just had a stressful morning and for some reason, my mind interpreted it as a bossy order. I repeated the opening time and then simply stated, “No.”

The conversation escalated as he didn’t accept my response. Before I knew it, we were yelling at one another. Why didn’t he just check it himself? He surely didn’t politely ask. I’ve already told him my answer. He then went on to shout from his car, “I’m here to put my dog to sleep! Where’s your humanity?!”
A staff member came out and we both exclaimed our viewpoints. She verified for him that he was there to put down his dog. He suddenly began apologizing, “Look, I’m sorry. I never meant to insult you, I’m having a bad day.” I immediately said, “I am too!” Our seeming barriers were broken, and we ended up hugging. We somehow comforted each other, and tears appeared on our distressed faces. In a short while, we went from belligerent bickering to saying, “I’m sorry”. He asked me for forgiveness to which I honestly replied, “We’re just being human, there’s nothing to forgive.”
He slowly carried his pet dog up to the door and I got to meet Sullivan. The golden retriever was calm, relaxed, and extremely peaceful. Bill said he was dying of cancer. I gave Sullivan a few friendly pats on his soft, beautiful coat and told Bill, “Thank you for letting me meet him.” We both talked about with so much going on in the world, we wished more people could understand and experience that we’re much more alike than different. We both shared how we learned something from each other.
The doors opened, and I took Tavvy in for her nail trim. I watched as Bill brought Sullivan into the clinic room. He came out one more time to get something from his car; but when he returned, he surprised me. He extended his hand and spoke sincerely, “You’ve got a real fire in you. You’re just like my girlfriend, she’s got that too. You don’t take nothing from nobody. I respect you.” I embarrassingly explained that it’s not always a good thing but replied “thank you”.
The day shook me up a bit, to be honest. It’s not easy to put a lifelong pet to sleep. I put my 16-year-old cat, Sammy, to rest last February. I wondered so much on the drive home why some things happen and learned a lot. We never know what others experience on a given day. It’s helpful to practice mindfulness and gratitude at each opportunity. Not only does it benefit us, it uplifts others. We may find that differences are merely illusions in a world of infinite human potential. Kindness is free – it’s rewards, without end.

By Kim Bragado for The Authentic Thinker