Journal of Gratitude

Reconnecting with my friends and nature

I went to Yogyakarta with a friend just before New Year's Eve. She suggested that we go visit her bestfriend (who is also a college friend of mine), and I enthusiastically agreed. We rode the train to Yogyakarta and stayed for a week. The three of us self-identify as introverts, which is why we prefer less congested environments. We visited Gunung Kidul's nature lookouts and visited numerous beaches. I was so happy spending the time with them. They were even patient with me while I was taking some time for meditating and grounding in the woods and on the beach. A week has passed (time flies when you're either having so much fun or you're so busy surviving that you lose track of time, but hey, why can't it be both?) and it was time for us to say our goodbyes to our wonderful friend, who had welcomed us with open arms in Yogyakarta. 

Long story short, my friend and I arrived early at the train station to return home. Then, to pass the time, we were enjoying an Americano at a local coffeeshop when another acquaintance of mine called. My friend on the phone was from my master's degree, and we hadn't spoken in a long time due to our continual hum of work. We talked for a while, and then he informed me that he went to the beach and thought about 2021 there. He got himself a question that was bothering him a lot.

"Why did this year look so much like last year, making me feel like I hadn't accomplished anything?" he wondered.

He asked me how I thought about what had happened to me throughout the year after expressing his restlessness. I told him that I had no idea how I reflected about the past year or for the following year because I didn't usually wait until the year changed to think about it. True, New Year's Eve has a momentum and tradition of reflecting on the past and making better plans for the future, but to be honest, I am feeling no longer tied to that tradition. I mean, if there's anything I need to think about, it should be on a daily basis. I also try not to let my ambitions define me, especially when they turn out to be unattainable. Nonetheless, making objectives is critical, and having a purpose in life is what motivates us. It's just that I'm lot more at ease letting things flow. Life happens, love happens. God, I believe, is The Best Planner and I surrender to Him entirely.

Instead of responding quickly, I redirected his question to him, asking,

"Do you often think about difficult things that happened to you but you overcame them?"

He paused for a few moments.

"I believe we both understand that our society establishes the standard of success based on materialism and quantitative achievement," I continued. "It can lead us to overlook the truth that the most important thing isn't always visible."

He took a breather to recall any recent incidents and learned about how he and his family dealt with adversity in 2021. He discovered that being patient, resilient, and strong in the face of hardship are all qualities that need to be lauded.

"Don't put too much pressure on yourself." I included something that also served as my self-reminder. "I think every moment leading up to this day has been arranged for a certain purpose." Every day, we have the opportunity to grow. As a result, time itself is always changing us. With each passing second, we get older, and it should be for the better.

When he spoke, I could hear his tone shift from melancholy to relief. We continued talking about our next diving trip when our schedules aligned. We concluded our talk quickly since I needed to catch my train.

I was pondering later that night at train. I was recalling Antoine de Saint-famous ExupĂ©ry's phrase from Le Petit Prince, 

"On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux," which translates as "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye". 

I'd forgotten how powerful that statement was until now. It was brimming with wisdom. It forces us to take a fresh perspective within the context of movement constraints and lockdowns imposed by Covid-19 (or at least at home). All of a sudden, the things we took for granted became setbacks, ruptures, and a never-ending crisis. It does, however, provide an opportunity to re-evaluate and examine what occurred within.

Perhaps our personal improvement during the last two years (or in the coming years) cannot be measured exclusively by our materialism-based metric of success. We have Covid-19, which presents us with numerous obstacles, and we are struggling. Being able to survive in this time is, in my opinion, an accomplishment. It is also an accomplishment to be able to remain faithful and compassionate to others.

I'm glad that talk served as a reminder for both my friend and myself. In the face of adversity, I rarely share my troubles on social media, but I am glad for what has occurred to me. I sincerely hope that I will be able to build a greater sense of gratitude for the little things in life. Things I've labelled as good and bad, things I'm at ease with or find tough.

At the end of the day, the ability to be grateful even in the midst of adversity is a feat worthy of praise and acknowledgment. Hopefully as we grow older each year, we will also grow wiser and kinder.