It was October 24th, 2016, a day I'll never forget. I came out of a local grocery store with a couple bags of groceries for a homeless man I'd seen near the parking lot. His smile and warm demeanor when I drove past him spoke to me. He came over to the passenger window of my truck as I pulled to a stop beside him. His name was Solomon. Probably in his mid 30's with long hair and a week's worth of scruff on his face. What he gave me will last longer than the simple food items I gave him. Solomon had painted a sign on the back of an old jacket which he was more than excited to share with me. The sign said, "You can smile, you woke up above the grass." He told me that he rarely saw someone smiling as they passed him. This coming from a man that didn't have many physical possessions to his name yet he couldn't stop smiling. His gratitude for simply being alive was tangible and gave me a new perspective on life.
Since then I've told the story of that day a hundred or more times. We all have those times in our lives when we're weighed down by stress, depression, feelings of uncertainty or something or someone has irritated us. I can choose to focus my day on all the things I don't have, all the things I want, all the things I need to change but really waking up is my "cake" and anything I have beyond waking up is "frosting". That belief in gratitude, for me, has been a guiding principle in life. How many people in this world would gladly trade places with me, would take my "rough days" in a moment's notice?
I was recently asked how my day was and I responded "I have 10 fingers and 10 toes and woke up above the grass so everything else is frosting." For me, it's difficult to vocalize any negativity with my day when I take a step back and realize how truly blessed I am to live the life I live. I know I'll have days that I may lose focus on my gratitude or moments within the day that I allow my gratitude to slip but when I do I'll remember Solomon and his message. I'll smile knowing I'm above the grass.
May you find those moments that make this a grateful life.