Leadership / 11.24.21
Gratitude: The Light That Illuminates Our Path
In the dark period we have been through, there have been times that it has been hard to muster gratitude. When you are in the dark, just light a candle and the dark and fears are pushed out. It gives illumination to grace and safety. For me, gratitude is the light that illuminates my world, keeps me calm, gives me solace and helps me stay in the moment. In the moment and in the safety of that light, I am safe and capable of moving forward, most often in spite of fear. For me, gratitude, grace and saying “thank you” is a muscle memory. It is always there if I just choose to invoke it … my body, my heart and my spirit don’t forget.
The phoenix is rising. I can see it and feel it, and it’s exciting. Over the weekend I was proofreading the INTIX 2022 program, and a theme emerged that I hadn’t seen before. I kept seeing words of hope, joy and grace. Words like transformation, build, success, pivoted, moving forward, lifeline, simple, optimize, flexible, hello, resiliency, resist, joy, passion, rekindle, ignite, spark, new, plot twist, health, winning, enhance, service, improve, attitude, circle, future, change, connection, maximize, remarkable, radical, inclusive, loyalty, legend, adjust, drive and defense. Not my words, but the words and descriptions that are coming up and out of our community. Words that are defining where we are now and, more importantly, where we are going. I feel and see gratitude, strength and pride. In those words, I see people who have picked up the pieces and are no longer trudging but are now running to their future. People who are embracing and leading us to something new and stronger. Our INTIX 2022 is like lighting that candle and illuminating our path!
No one among us ever conceived of the test that we would be put through and probably few of us felt like we always had the strength to get through it all. Yet, in spite of the fears and the grief — and from my seat — I see heroes. I see strong, committed and focused people who have let the grief wash through and over them and who are now using their immense power and strength to literally reinvent, rebuild and create something new. I see people who, through their words and actions, are expressing joy for the moment and pride to have survived it. These are the words of people who are living and thriving in gratitude!
The renowned psychotherapist, writer and soul activist Francis Ward Weller said, “The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give.”
Let’s just say it out loud, that the one hand of grief isn’t any fun. Loss, change, confusion and stress are no fun either. And let’s face it, the past 20 months haven’t been what any of us would call fun. They have been challenging, painful, difficult and stressful. There is a sense of great sadness — yes, the grief over our loss of culture, co-workers, stability, predictability. And, for many, the very real loss of income, health and even lives. There isn’t anyone among us who has been left untouched by this. We have all lost something, and we share that collective loss, sadness and grief. In many ways we liked what we had, the way it worked, the way it was. Truth be told, we are creatures of habit, and change isn’t necessarily always the friendliest of states for us.
Be honest. How many times have you said or wished that this would “just be over with,” or wanted to say to someone or yourself “just get on with it”? My personal favorite, in my head and harkening back to my upbringing, is “just pull up your bootstraps and get it done.” That’s my oft-referenced inner 8-year-old being impatient and petulant. However, the truth of it all is that we still have to acknowledge what we have lost and what we have been through. To heal, we must see it for it was and what it has affected. That isn’t easy and sometimes it isn’t pleasant — it’s raw, it’s emotional, it’s painful, it’s shocking. We don’t like to feel those emotions, so we rush to “get over it.” Doing the difficult interpersonal work of acknowledging loss, change and grief isn’t simple. It’s uncomfortable for a lot of people, and it is sometimes easier to “just get on with it.”
But isn’t that the easy way out? I certainly don’t mean to say that we should wallow in this grief and loss or stay stuck in it. What I do mean is that we can say it out loud and pause to just feel it and breathe through it. We also get to pause and honor the times we have experienced and pay homage to what we have lost. When I do that, I get to pause the agitation, stop the gerbil wheel and just sit with the loss, the changes and the newness. Grief can pass through you, and it’s actually OK to be in that space to acknowledge and say, “What the heck was that? Am I OK? Are you OK? What’s next? How do I do this? I’m tired! I’m not sure I can do this. I don’t know! Help!”
It’s a fine line between grief and gratitude. There are some who say that gratitude is the anecdote to grief, but I think that in some way they go hand in hand. Or maybe they are just two sides of the same coin. When the grief and loss is acknowledged and allowed to pass through, and when you can sit with it in that pause and in that space, you see the blessings. When you unclench your fists and relax in that space, the joy and the gratitude have an opening, and they can come in. The other hand is revealed, and gratitude and grace can emerge.
Ultimately, you all have been tested and have not only survived but are finding contentment in the new and harnessing your passion for this work to find joy again. The example you set by your quiet and simple actions and words is a true testament to your immense hearts and grit. I am so incredibly grateful to each of you, every day, for being candles of grace and gratitude in the dark. It is proven that you can’t do this type of transformation without gratitude. The most miraculous thing of all is that you are doing it with wit, kindness, unabashed lack of fear and in service to each other, the industry and the communities you serve. That is the greatest gift of Thanksgiving and of the season that I can think of.
'Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.
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Tags: Leadership , ticketing pros