Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Glass of Gratitude

A flower garland, traditionally used in the Hindu religion as an offering to a deity, that I found washed up on Chowpatty Beach in downtown Mumbai. Vivid colors and inspiring beauty are everywhere, even upon a polluted shoreline.

         I have been very lucky in my life. Unfortunately, as many others do, I often forget this when obsessing about small things like the fact that I can’t afford a Proenza Schouler PS11 or that my hair isn’t thicker. Instead of focusing on the blessings I do have, I frequently beat myself up over my negative qualities or material items that I don’t possess, that in the long run, have minimal importance on happiness or well-being.
          On Friday night, in typical Charlotte “klutzy” character, I stubbed my toe in my doorframe. Well, it was more than the usual stub. I fractured my third toe and have perhaps broken another bone above it in my foot. Confined to bed rest for several days, as cliché as it sounds, I have had some time to reflect on my life, and journey this far.
         The highly visible juxtaposition of India has, in a short period, allowed me to think beyond the typical boundaries and confines I have back in New York City. While certainly you see poverty when riding the subway or walking through the Bronx, it is not so apparent as it is here in Bombay. Here, the Four Seasons Hotel, complete with rooftop club, infiniti pool, and all-inclusive spa, sits directly across the street from a huge slum. The rich and the poor coexist in a peaceful, respectful manner, but as the days pass, you, unfortunately, become more and more immune to the sight of flea-ridden stray animals and begging children that approach your cabs at each and every stoplight.
But, when I take the time to really look around outside, the fact that children, without shoes and covered in filth, are playing in the street past midnight, I swallow my ignorance and remember my blessings.
          Most importantly, I have an incredible, loving family that has enabled me to follow my dreams and my heart, even if that means moving halfway across the world. People, who, in the wake of my father’s unexpected death, were there for me, through the tears, the laughter, and the joy. People who never doubted the career path, however obscure it was, that I set out to do so early, and supported me wholeheartedly through it. Life has also allowed me to discover my career path very young, something that not all people can tout. I have a body that allows me to walk around and explore my surroundings, learning new things by seeing how exactly this huge world works, a little glimpse at a time. A healthy body (well, before I injured my foot, but it will heal) that I can twist and contort to whatever strange Bar Method position I decide, or subject to some crazy, low-carb diet whenever I choose with a refrigerator filled with fresh produce. These are just a few of the things that I so often take for granted.
         It can be difficult to admit how selfish we often behave, especially when we are surrounded by others who have been given the same privileges. But when you take a moment to stop, and, truly, “count your blessings”, that perfect lipstick that you can never seem to find or the pair of Loboutins that you would “kill” for, really don’t make any difference to your true happiness. A minute of positive thinking and embracing those we love means much more at the end of the day than anything else we can waste time doing.
          I’m not writing this to encourage you to become the next Mother Teresa, or Gandhi (I'd say India taught them far more lessons than I could ever grasp), by any means; but perhaps to turn and hug your best friend or mother or father or brother or sister, and thank them for the support and love they’ve given that has enabled you to live your life so beautifully and blessed. Try to be a bit more grateful when things aren’t going your way, and allow the power of positive thought to bring gratitude into your being.  

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