Gratitude In A Sunday Snowstorm

It is Sunday, March 22, 2009. I’m sitting in my living room at eight o’clock in the morning, staring through picture windows across the prairies and foothills toward the Rocky Mountains about 30 miles away.

I can’t see the mountains. We’re in the middle of a spectacular spring snowstorm that started late last night. Snow is piled 10 inches deep on the ground, and up to 6 inches on many tree branches and bushes. And, it is still falling heavily. This is the kind of day to not go out unless you have to, or have a good four-wheel-drive vehicle and feel like adventure.

For some reason, today is also one of those welcome days on which I feel overwhelming gratitude. They usually come on Sundays, and I haven’t had one for a while. During the first year or so after I left Mormonism, this was regular event. Probably every two or three weeks I would have a strong dose of the feelings that are with me right now. But, no matter how good or bad things are, we quickly habituate. So, I am enjoying a rare pleasure.

Why today? That’s why I’m writing this. These feelings surprised me a few minutes ago, and so while enjoying them I will pick at them a little bit. Perhaps I’m odd in this way, but introspection heightens positive experience for me, and seems to make it last longer.

This is a spectacularly beautiful morning. That seems to have a lot to do with why I feel as I do. These feelings are often associated with being moved by great art, nature’s power and beauty, and other aesthetic experiences.

It is Sunday. As I indicated above, I feel like this more often than not on a Sunday morning when I am going somewhere or doing something that would not have been possible while I continue to be a fully participating Mormon. I am now accustomed to this freedom, but it still sometimes feels surprisingly exhilarating.

My wife and I had a great dinner last night with good friends (one Mormon couple and one non-Mormon), and then enjoyed a thought-provoking, mildly funny play with them (Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband”). I’m still probably glowing a little bit because of that.

We got to bed fairly late last night, but I still woke up early this morning feeling rested, and as I walked out of a dark bedroom into the vaulted roof and picture windows of our living room, I was welcomed by the spectacular scene of heavily frocked trees and fences, and snow coming down so hard that I could only see half way across the pasture behind our house. I’m glad that this kind of thing so easily moves me.

I have a number of hours of work this morning to which I’m looking forward. I’m working on an interesting project right now, and this is the kind of thing I intensely enjoyed.

I know that this afternoon I will either go skiing with my 14-year-old son, or have a good long workout in some other way. I am 100% confident that either of those will make me feel great.

I will be with my wife and a few of my children off and on all day today. That is enjoyable.

And then this evening I will attend a book club meeting for the first time with some people who sound interesting. That is the kind of thing I almost always enjoy, and so I’m looking forward to it.

My life is far from perfect. I often feel incomplete, inadequate, etc. Those feelings are part of life’s normal run, as far as I can tell. Because of how they contrast with moments like this, they are also a big part what makes right now so important and enjoyable for me.

I occasionally communicate with people who have changed their religious beliefs more or less as I have, and are not able to feel positive with regard to their new circumstances. This often has to do with conflict within their families regarding faith related issues. I still deal with a significant amount of that myself, and that is in part responsible for some of the feelings of difficulty and inadequacy I regularly have. But these problems do not overshadow the kind of wonderful moment I’m enjoying right now.

I have no idea why some people are able to anchor themselves in the occasional moments of clarity and lightness of being we experience while others appear dominated by life’s dross. I’m trying to learn how to spend more of my life in positive space, and use my knowledge that I will have regular experiences like what I’m enjoying right now to help me through the inevitable dark moments. I also remind myself that if I felt as I do right now all the time, but I would soon lose the ability to savour this experience.

In a few minutes I’m going to grind some fresh coffee and make a cup of my favorite high tensile espresso. I only drink that roughly once every two or three days. I find that I enjoy more that way. If I drank this stuff every day, it would not give me the lift I experience shortly.

Life is good. Today is going to be a great day. I wish you each the same, or better.

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