31 Mar Choose Gratitude
It’s been a tough month for everyone. As of today, at least one-third of the entire world has been placed on lockdown. COVID-19 has brought us to a screeching halt and humbled us as never before. We are all coping as best we can. The best thing I read this week was a piece attributed to Bill Gates on what the COVID-19 virus means to him. Gates talked about how, despite its devastation to people’s health and to our economy, this virus has had the unexpected positive effect of forcing us to slow down and to prioritize what has always been important, but that we pushed aside to pursue other things. It’s forced us to be with ourselves and with our families.
One thing that has gotten me through the last five years without Dragon is gratitude. At first, I strongly resisted gratitude. What did I have to be thankful for? What business did I have to see my life as anything but cursed? When we lost Dragon, when I looked at my life, other than Hannah, there were no bright lights.
But slowly, I have been able to count again my blessings. And so it is with this Corona Virus. We cannot focus on what we have lost. If I do so, we will drown in sorrow. We cannot focus on what we did not get to do. We have to focus on what we get to do today. Our daughter is among the high school seniors that may not be able to experience all the mile-markers a senior year in high school normally bestows — prom, a time to relax with friends, graduation — and my heart cries for all students at this loss. For all the losses we are all experiencing and have experienced already. But I know that nothing is guaranteed. We are simply not guaranteed tomorrow. So I try to be grateful for this day. For this puppy at my feet keeping me company. For being able to shelter in place in a comfortable home. For having a refrigerator with milk and eggs and a pantry with a bag of rice. For having the chance to have more time with family.
I had started a gratitude practice a while ago, adhering to it regularly in some weeks, forgetting it while too busy with life in others. But with this COVID-19 virus, I’ve been diligent about starting every morning with gratitude. I try not to read the news or open Facebook first thing when I awake, but instead, to start with deep breaths. And while I’m breathing deep, I’m listing off the things I’m grateful for. The big things first, like Hannah, Daniel, my friends, our health. Then the little things: the sound of birds chirping outside my window, the words of Anne Lamott and the poetry of Mary Oliver, Netflix, my warm cup of coffee, a day at the beach with my daughter. I’m grateful that even though we didn’t get to work with our new class of Dragon Fellows in person this past weekend at our first 2020 Leadership Session, we got to meet in Zoom. I’m grateful I get to work on the Dragon Kim Foundation, where I can surround myself with good people — our Dragon Fellows, all our teenage world-changers, our volunteers, my Foundation team, and for you, our supporters.
I hope you all stay healthy and safe. There is much out there that is unknown. I will not choose fear. I will not choose loss. I choose gratitude.