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Taking stock and gazing heavenward

I’ve noticed something. It’s the little things people say unconsciously.

When you ask someone how they’re doing, there’s a range of automated responses. You know, something like this: How are you?”


The most recent one I’ve noticed people use is: “I can’t complain.” What does that mean?

Perhaps it’s just me, but it’s as if someone says it to let you know that they actually do have something to complain about, but they can’t. (It’s a similar psychology to saying don’t think about pink elephants… ooops, too late.)

Maybe it’s that people don’t think they’re allowed to complain. They’re using restraint to their emotions or pent up frustrations.

Or is it that we’ve just resolved that instead of saying, “I’m great!” or “I’m quite content” or “I’m chilled” we’ve resorted to the double-negative statement to say those things. “I can’t complain” might actually mean that I just won a million dollars and I’m over the moon.

I’ve tried doing something recently. It’s called gratefulness. I’ve taken stock and critically analyzed everything in our home, and I am unusually blessed. We are three generations under one roof, three dogs, a cat and budgie and guinea pig. Our children are healthy. Our folks are “good for their age”, as my father-in-law says. But they’re actually awesome – they are wise and kind and we are richer for their input into our lives.

And I have the hottest wife on the planet, in more ways than I will be able to spell out here.

I am blessed. Gratefulness has lifted my gaze, like this image of my youngest here, and heavenward I utter an inner “thank you” every day.

Of course, critical thinking sets in and you think that as soon as you say stuff like this, you’ll jinx it and something will go wrong.

I’ve thought about this a lot, too. I think of those in my own circles who have lost loved ones, and yes, I’ve covered these topics before. I think of the good people who have left the planet prematurely – children, parents, close friends – and how we carry on amidst loss. How do we hope? What do we hope in? Big questions, which demand big answers. Currently, I still have only the big questions.

When I was growing up, I loved reading lyrics booklets of CDs. An album that had a profound impact on me was Jars of Clay’s Who We Are Instead. There’s a track on their called Jesus Blood Never Failed Yet.

In the booklet, the backstory reads as follows:

“We originally heard this song on a Gavin Bryars recording. It was a 72-minute loop of a homeless man singing this simple chorus over and over. The contrast of one so lowly expressing such certain and simple faith was and continues to be nothing short of astounding. The power of Gavin’s recording is a testimony to one of this world’s most profound and sacred mysteries… though they suffer… they have joy.”

I reflect on this sacred mystery and I think #goals for myself, in this lifetime.

Wherever this finds you on this Christmas Eve, I hope that there’s very little to complain about, and endless things in your mind and your heart to be grateful for.

Donate towards the Great Deep.

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