By Mark E. Smith
Sitting on the porch with among my best friends, George, I drifted the conversation to what I’ve been dwelling on: the tiny weeds in-between the hundred-year-old stones of the walkway.
Now, all anyone has noted is the beauty of the house and its serene surroundings. And, isn’t there charm to a real field-stone walkway, weeds in-between, leading to a house?
However, to me, they were just weeds, detracting from all – and I wanted them gone. I was admittedly oblivious to much – except for the tiny weeds in the walkway.
As I thought about getting rid of the weeds for several days – a distraction I couldn’t shake – I finally had to ask myself an introspective question. With all of the beauty of the house, property, family and friends not just surrounding me, but truly blessing me, why was I so focused on something entirely insignificant like the weeds between the stones of the walkway?
No, it wasn’t because I was ungrateful or unaware of all else. Rather, I was simply doing what so many of us do at times in our lives. Instead of seeing the 9,999 aspects of beauty around me, I was focused on the one annoyance.
How many times do we do this in our lives? A friend of mine, in a much more profound point in his life, shared with me once that three years after his paralysis from a diving accident, he realized that instead of focusing on the 9,999 things he could do, his life was stalled as he dwelt on the one thing he couldn’t do – walk. He went on to share that once he shifted his focus from that one aspect of his life, to the other 9,999 aspects, the world around him changed from dark to light, where joy and love and laughter and a success re-entered.
I go back to my question. How many of us choose to dwell on the one seeming negative in our lives – at least by our own definitions – instead of focusing on the 9,999 positives? We do it in our relationships, our careers, our self-images, and on and on. Why?
It’s innately human, that’s why – and it can counter-intuitively prove a profoundly life-affirming experience. See, we are all more blessed than we’ll truly ever know, even during times of extreme adversity, and our flawed capacity to not see the 9,999 positives in our lives at times, but to find a single negative, is life’s reality check. Yes, if we forever dwell on the one negative, it will defeat a beautiful relationship or great career, diminishing all the miraculous fortune that we have in our lives. Yet, if we are self-aware, those single negatives serve as an amazing compass that points us back to where our heads and hearts belong: cherishing the 9,999 positives in our lives.