The Buddha In The Garden

Here is the world, and you live in it, and are grateful. You try to be grateful.
— Michael Cunningham, The Hours
Image © K Stone Matheson 2017

Image © K Stone Matheson 2017

THERE are times in life when it's extremely easy to be grateful for what we have, who we are, and how we live, both professionally and personally. Times when the whole world is a big sunshiny ball of loved-up happiness, and everything is going exactly according to a somewhat dim plan nutted out over a bottle of sauv blanc last October. 

Really, the planet's populace should be singing and dancing in the streets, expressing gratitude for one's very existence, somewhat in the manner of a 1950s style musical extravaganza, preferably in widescreen technicolour, and with oneself played by a glam movie star of choice, who sits back, waves majestically, and graciously accepts the kudos for being, well, me.

This is not feeling like one of those times. 

If said musical extravaganza was rocking away on today's screen, it would resemble nothing so much as a mash-up of Rocky Horror, Carrie, and Psycho, with a little bit of The Sound of Music mixed in. You know the part where Maria, the nun on the run/nanny from hell/bachelorette (oh come on, you know it's true) forces them to dress in curtains?

I imagine you have the picture now.


It'll go away in a year or two.

To put it bluntly, life, my dear reader - or if I'm lucky, readers - is not currently sitting in the easy chair of gratitude, putting its feet up and popping the top off another pale ale. Last night, as I lay down to put my brain into whirr madly mode (known to normal humans as going to sleep), the ingratitude grumps started to take over, and this morning, they'd gone supernova. 

It's at this point, when there are distinct feelings of miffdom on the rampage, that the need to find gratitude is most apparent, and hardest to hold onto. 

Several complementary emotions are trying to bust my stoic little chops today. To be completely honest, they're almost - almost - at overwhelm point, as they bring up past feelings of inadequacy, betrayal, anxiety, and extreme hurt on both a work and home basis, and attempt to make them fully present. 

They make me ask myself what, exactly, do I have to be grateful for? Am I successful? Wealthy? Well-known? Thin? Healthy? Treating my body like a temple? Looking fabtastic and social media ready at nearly all times?

The answer to all of these questions, if I look at them with a public eye, is no. I'm sitting here writing this in my tracky dacks and ugg boots, contemplating a nap; and if it weren't 10.30 in the morning, I'd probably be slurping on a vino, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know.

And therein lies the inability to find surface gratitude. 

Then I look at the photo I took the other day that illustrates this post. 

It hasn't been touched up, or filtered; simply cropped. In the background, whilst I was taking it, Osky the Spy was rolling around in the sunshine between rain showers, half-drunk on warms and catnip. That little stone buddha has been with me for almost twenty years, in seven cities, and on two continents. It has survived more moves than I can think of. It was bought from the oldest Buddhist temple in Indonesia for a pittance. 

It is worth nothing. It is worth everything. It's a bit chipped, but it is still here.

It is beautiful. 

To some, worth nothing. To others, worth everything. 

It is me.

A bit chipped, been through a hell of a lot of moves, but still here. Watching Osky roll around in the sunshine, drunk on the warms. Part of the world, and grateful for it. Grateful as hell, in fact, because, like it, under all the surface abrasions, a few bruises to the ego, and the lack of polish and filtered success - 

I have, here and now, survived.

Even if I am wearing bloody flowered curtains.