Years ago I bought my first Christmas album on a cassette tape. It had songs by Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and Johnny Mathis, but it also had a song by Rosemary Clooney called, “Count Your Blessings.” As I was a teenager at the time, I don’t think it had ever occurred to me to count my blessings. But it was Christmas season and I was alone in the car on the way to or from a college class and listening to this song. I guess it had always been natural for me to focus on the hardships in my life. I stressed over studying for exams and writing papers, my family, finding a job, and paying for college. I had never really thought about the blessings I had in my life. I had a home, clothes on my back, food in my stomach, friends and family that cared about me.
This song made me feel . . . at peace. I felt this calm come over me and thought, this is a much better way to look at life. Perspective is important.
Sure, reality is there to look at every morning when you open a newspaper or turn on the TV. Look at the news over the last few weeks: a boat turned over and the children trapped in the cabin died, a cement truck crashed into a school bus, and a mad man opened fire in a movie theater. In an even wider perspective we see nations becoming bankrupt, glaciers disappearing, and uprisings against totalitarian governments. We focus on these things, and rightfully so. These events call for re-evaluation, for action, for change. And in our own lives the same is true. When things don’t go as we planned, when we are stressing over life and our hardships, it’s time for re-evaluation, for action, for change.
But at the end of each day, take a moment to remind yourself of what you do have. Of what is right in your small world. This perspective will give you hope and the drive to keep what is right and to make it even better.
My son was in a different movie theater at midnight watching the same movie that those innocent victims were watching in Colorado. How easily could it have been the theater he was in? I was driving to a wedding last week and there was a lot of traffic, then I took a wrong turn, and I was stressing about being late. But after getting the car turned around and as I approached a toll booth, I saw smoke and then flames. A few moments before, a car had crashed into the toll booth and exploded, putting both the car and toll both on fire. If traffic hadn’t been so heavy, if I hadn’t made that wrong turn, would I have been right there when it happened? Last year lightning hit my elderly neighbor’s house and burned the room she was in to a crisp. She was lucky, she was still awake and was able to get out in time. Each day obstacles and dangers are put in our path. Each day we take our chances, whether if we go out into the world or stay inside our own homes. But we live, and all of that is part of life.
As Paul McCartney sings, “Life is what happens while we are busy making plans.” We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. We plan and hope our plans will pan out. But tonight, look at it all from a different perspective. At this moment, if you have enough money for food, if your children are safe in their beds, if you have a new chance to make things right or better tomorrow, than, as Rosemary Clooney sings, “Count Your Blessings.”
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy