What is more important? To value what you have or to value what you do not have? Think about it for a moment. Gratitude is valuing what you have and ambition is valuing what you may or may not have in the future. If you drown the voice of gratitude in the roars of your ambitions, all you will be left with is a great deal of noise and no music. Why? Because often ambitions are endless, they are in multiple, they are not cohesive whereas gratitude is the collective response to everything life has given you, everything you already have.
Long, long ago on an island lived a group of emotions, both positive and negative. Their names were Pleasure, Sorrow, Grief, Insecurity, Anger, Fear, Compassion, Humility and Gratitude. That was not all though. The island was inhabited by other entities that governed a higher place in the society. They were Ego, Wealth and Time. Love was a resident too but it mostly lived with others, it never held onto anything, it owned nothing, it was mellow, kind and soft. All of the above were tenants at the houses of humans on that island.
With glaciers melting and the sea level rising, the island was gradually sinking. It was clear it would disappear before long. The residents called an urgent meeting and concluded it was time to leave the island. They decided everyone was responsible for making their own arrangements. They got to the task. Love thought differently though. It did not want to abandon an island that sheltered it for so long. It wanted to wait till the last moment, it was hopeful some might stay back. For Love, it was not a matter of trade or give-and-take, it was more a question of integrity and promise. The island was fast losing its dry ground to the obdurate ocean.
The humans were the first to leave the island. Some of the negative emotions like Sorrow, Grief and Insecurity left with them. Love had no boat of its own. It looked expectantly at the other emotions on the ship and pleaded, “Please, can I board your ship?” Humans did not even respond. They were too busy fighting among themselves.
“We’ve latched onto the humans ourselves,” the emotions spoke in unison, “we’ve no place for you here.”
Just then, Love saw Ego sailing his boat made of steel. It looked rather strong, heavy but sturdy.
“Can I join you?” Love said, “I take very little space.”
“No!” Ego yelled, “Anger and Fear have taken the other two places I’ve on my boat. Besides, I have only met you occasionally whereas they are my bosom friends. I can’t let them go.”
Water was rising fast and at a short distance Love saw a magnificent yacht. It was owned by Wealth.
“Can you please let me on board?” said Love.
“I’m sorry but I already have Pleasure,” Wealth responded, “I can’t part company with him.”
Love looked at the dismal state around. Just then a voice called out, “Come, Love, come. Hop in.”
As soon as Love got on the boat, it saw Compassion, Humility and Gratitude exuding brilliant radiance. They were on board already. Love thanked them.
“Oh, it’s not our boat,” Gratitude said, “you need not thank us.”
“Whose boat is it then?” Love was surprised. “Who has saved me?”
“It belongs to Time,” Compassion answered.
“But, I was worthless in everyone else’s eyes. Why has Time saved my life?”
“You see, Love,” spoke Humility, “Time alone knows your real value.”
If you reread and reflect on it, this anecdote has the wisdom of life. In our fast-paced world, you can be so focused on getting to the destination, in crossing the finish line, that priceless things appear worthless. The worth of anything is not determined from its price but value.
Imagine you sacrificed your health and your family to make ten million dollars faster than anybody you know. The price of that sacrifice maybe ten million but what about the value of that ten million? Is it worth the price, the sacrifice? When gratitude fuels your ambition, it becomes an effortless journey but when ambition drives gratitude, a sense of lacking never really leaves you. When you have compassion, gratitude, humility, what you have is love indeed. These three are the primary constituents of love. Every other variation may just be an attachment or an obsession.
It is when we lose what we have, when Time separates us from what we take for granted that we really understand the value of what we had. You can hear a short discourse on gratitude, here.