"God gave you a gift of 86 400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you?"
? William Arthur Ward[/caption]
A 4.4 earthquake is not major in the big scheme of things, but its violent jolt of West Los Angeles yesterday was scary nevertheless. Stranger still was the serendipity of my conversation with my Uber driver, Harutuyun, only minutes later.
Harutuyun is a piano teacher by profession. He and his family survived the great Spitak earthquake in Armenia in 1988. His entire town was flattened. Both sides of the building in which his family lived collapsed excepting for the central section which they occupied. With help they were able to escape the wreckage. His 10 month-old granddaughter's crib was next to a wall that collapsed over her. But the customary Armenian rug that hung on the wall by her crib fell over her and shielded her from the debris. Her mother, fearing the worst, removed the rug to find the infant giggling. The US government offered them free passage to this country and a green card to help them rebuild their lives. "God saved us and gave me the gift of my grandchild for a second time. I treasure her. This country is amazing. Perhaps the only truly civilized country in the world. I am so grateful to live here."
I got into the car feeling shaken by our "little" earthquake but I spent the rest of my ride to the airport wondering whether we need a much bigger earthquake to make us feel gratitude. We would enjoy our lives and our loved ones so much more richly if we felt constant gratitude for them. Don't wait for an earthquake, sudden death of someone close, illness, or economic hardship before you feel grateful for what and whom you have in your life. Human imagination is a powerful tool. I try to use it not only to envision the realization of my dreams but also to simulate the hardships from which I have been spared but many have not. And from the vantage point of that simulated hardship I survey my blessings. Suddenly the imperfections of the things and the people I care about recede into oblivion as their magnificent beauty rises to the fore. And I say thank-you.