Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tools for the Journey #5 - Exhaling Gratitude

Back when I was in my early twenties - while living in Colorado - I had the privilege of working with John Denver. During that time John gave me a powerful tool for my journey which I would like to share with you.

Over the course of the years we worked together there was one thing about John which was always present. It was present in his actions, it was present in his speaking, it was present in the work he did, and it was present in the way he walked through his daily life. His modeling this for me at that point on my journey was incredibly powerful. He breathed it in, he exhaled it, and it is who he was. Never in my life had I seen anyone else do this so absolutely…and I have not seen it exhibited in anyone else to the same extent in the nearly 20+ years since then.

John was grateful. His level of gratitude was staggering in its depth and breadth. He was grateful every day, all the time, without exception, on good days and bad, from sun up to sun down. He felt it, he lived it, he modeled it, and all that he did, all that he gave, all that he sang - was an expression of his gratitude. Without exception and without question he was grateful.

John’s most sincere wish was to make a difference in the world. One of the most important lessons I learned from him was how wanting to make a difference was not a place he was “going”, it was the place he was coming from; it was foundational for him. He knew the journey could be long, he knew some would criticize him, doubt his motives and question his sincerity...but gratitude was his fuel, it was the powerful ground he stood upon, it was how he looked out of his eyes, and thus nothing could stop nor deter him. He employed what I like to call the "Kennedy" approach:

In 1962 John F. Kennedy decided to put a man on the moon within 10 years. To reach his goal he surrounded himself with every expert he could find. Interestingly, he also made sure to surround himself with plenty of people who told him “it can’t be done”. Why? Because these were the people who would point out the flaws in his plan. Brilliant! He didn’t shun the nay-sayers; he included them, and was grateful for them, because they helped him reach his goal! Mr. Kennedy decided failure wasn’t an option so he found a way to have everything and everyone contribute to the successful outcome of the project.

John was the same - he included everyone and was grateful for what they brought to the table. He smiled a lot and really did say, "Far out" all the time! He truly was one of the best people I have ever known. He lived and breathed gratitude day in and day out and he gave me a precious gift by showing me what this way of being-gratitude can do in the world.

As you travel the road ahead you will receive many different “gifts” - be thankful for all of them ("good" or "bad"). These gifts are the treasures of your journey, the tools which will help you through the challenges ahead...if you stay open and remember to stay grateful.

I believe that we are here for each other, not against each other.
Everything comes from an understanding that you are a gift in my life – whoever you are, whatever our differences. -John Denver

Blessings on the Journey!


1 comment:

  1. I'll try to remember what I wrote: I was very happy to read your blog. For all the years since I first saw John, I have been telling people the reason my huband and I became "fans" of John, the person (though we certainly enjoy all his works) is because of his way of living joyfully every single minute of his life. He embraced life and showed it is important to find the joy and the gift in even the saddest, most horrible events in your life. BUT you are the first person I have seen express the same thing in a slightly different way...and to ME, this was John't real draw.He was a person who could teach "sweet surrender", "prayer without ceasing", and much more. To us, he was a modern day embodiment of our faith and love for the Creator. When we were with John we felt the powerful, but humble pull of a person living life to the absolute maximum. And it is such an exhilarating experience. The hardest part of John's death was trying to imagine someone SOOO alive, not alive anymore. Bet there is, we think, an important lesson there too. There is much more beyond this life, because those who have learned the joy of love and growth and surrender could never simply cease to be. There have only been two others my husband and I have seen this same "aliveness" in: Steve Irwin, and Andre Rieu. I would so enjoy knowing you a bit better. I am on fb by my name: Patricia Sweetland. THANK YOU.