I picked up my pace. I was about a quarter of a block from the bus stop. I turned to look behind me, not wanting to miss the approach of the bus. No bus in sight. I continued walking. Seconds later the bus whizzed by.Frantically I yelled out a plea to stop. The bus picked up speed. I began my chase down the hill of Main St. Fort Lee ,hoping that the traffic light ahead would turn red and halt the bus in its hurried path. The light remained green and the bus hurtled on. I stopped. Panting , I muttered angrily to myself: "What luck. I missed the bus by a fraction of a second.!"
I decided to walk to the bridge, a mile away, sure to catch one of the many mini-buses that crossed the GWB at regular intervals. Feelings of frustration began to race in my brain. "Why did this have to happen? Why didn't I leave my home a few seconds earlier? Why didn't I turn around when the bus was in view? Why didn't the bus stop? "
Self-recrimination and blame began to occupy my thoughts. Now I'll be late, I thought, powerless to control events. Perspiration seeped through my shirt. I was on the way to the theater with my wife, but a clamminess on my skin dashed the usual excitement accompanying a night of delight in Manhattan. I had dashed forward desperately trying to catch the bus, but to no avail. I felt a momentary sense of being bypassed, even abandoned.
Deliberately and consciously, I began to contemplate this situation from the perspective of gratefulness.What could I be grateful for as a result of this unexpected change of events?
It occurred to me that I was most fortunate to be living in such proximity to the city that I could walk a short distance and find an alternate and frequent means of transportation. Having to walk an extra mile was an opportunity to gain a bit more physical exercise for the day. The night air was refreshing. It had been a muggy and warm day. I welcomed the coolness of the night's breezes. I silently expressed thanks for the gift of the the evening stroll.
As I meditated on the gifts of the moment-my ability to walk, the sight of flickering lights from the bridge, the privilege of easy access to a center of world culture and entertainment, my anger and stress began to ebb from my mind, and in their place was a welling up of calm and the quiet anticipation of meeting my wife at the expected time and enjoying a night out in one of my most favorite cities in the world.
How vulnerable we are to slipping into states of mind that make us so unhappy. What a powerful antidote to this susceptibility is the awareness of life as a reason for gratefulness.
To be grateful does not necessarily come naturally. It is an acquired skill , a way of thinking and responding. As we cultivate this art, we are able more readily to absorb the joy and wothwhileness of every living moment given to us by God.
I arrived on time. The evening was wonderful. Baruch Hashem-I praise God.
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