Ambition tells us, when we appreciate what we have, we have no drive to seek more. It means as well as comfort, gratitude is the enemy of greatness. Or does it?
Perhaps the secret to happiness is low expectations. Perhaps success is recognising what we have. Perhaps the pursuit of greener pastures is not a hunt, but rather an escape. An escape from permanence, belonging, love.
These propositions terrify most of us. If these were true, we assume we have no incentive to pursue a better life, or challenge ourselves, or explore. But this isn’t the case. The explorer and the hunter are very different. One seeks to witness other worlds; the other seeks to penetrate them. One seeks knowledge; the other seeks reward. One recognises, regardless of how little we have, that a simple thank you is enough to put us at ease; the other simmers in anxiety in search of something more.
Life is a beautiful stage play cloaked by a curtain of despair. It takes optimism to draw the curtains, and cheer to keep the cast from disappearing into darkness. Yet, the objective is clear – sit, watch and immerse yourself. When we take the time to stop looking forward, and instead look around, we realise how much we have – the permanence of family, the love of friends, the kindness of strangers.
Perhaps we misconstrue life as a colossal hunt for purpose and place when it is nothing but a gift to participate in the ultimate mystery. If this were so, gratitude would be a requirement, not a liberty. And heaven would be here, not there.
Gratitude alone is enough to inspire the best of art, and liberate the best of circumstance.