I was born in the industrial town of Elizabeth, NJ. We were surrounded by the Singer factory, the Exxon refinery, and Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal.It was an industrialized inner city. The joke was you could smell when you were in Elizabeth. I grew up surrounded by a thousand shades of grey, everywhere you looked. In an environment like this, negativity abounds, as if your surroundings are constantly confirming the bleakness of life, making you question the nature of your own existence.
Even some of the adults in my life tried to convince me that life sucked-life’s a bitch then you die. In my teens, my mother’s former boyfriend, during a lengthy philosophical conversation, told me we were actually all living in hell, literally. Honestly, he had a lot of good supporting facts to prove his argument. I started to wonder if it was true. What a dismal outlook of life, especially for a teen. There were a lot of hurdles to overcome.
Despite it all, I never stop searching for the truth, perhaps I was born with a spiritual fortitude. Amidst these harsh conditions I experienced moments of incredible beauty, and in the beauty there was truth, absolute truth. Over time, it became clear to me that life was a gift, it was The Gift. I am so grateful for that clarity. The practice of gratitude has deepen my beliefs. I remember I said to my friend, one day at breakfast, that I even welcomed pain. She sent me Rumi’s poem The Guest House. After I read it, I knew I had arrived at another level of understanding.
I’ve met people who are stuck. They’re so wrapped up in their feelings, enmeshed in the confusions they create, they just can’t see it. They can’t see that life is a miracle. If you consider for a moment everything that has to happen for your body to be alive, hundreds of transactions, you begin to see how incredible it is. Then start to extend that awareness to everything around you and you will see the miracle unfold. Life is a gift, it is an opportunity to experience, to learn, to grow, to love, to LIVE. It starts with a willingness to believe it is true and the evidence will reveal itself.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” -Albert Einstein