One of the most useful, practical gifts I’ve been given this year is a rock. A river stone, to be more specific, clad in leather and with one simple word engraved on it: “Gratitude.”
It’s a word that changes everything, if we embrace it, internalize it, live it despite the difficulty of our conditions. I’m far from perfect at the practice, which is why the stone is so useful. When I pick it up, feel the steady solid weight, the smooth leather, it reminds me to be grateful for something equally small, specific, in the moment. And that is all it takes, that pure intentional focus on one beautiful small thing, to remove for a moment whatever other worry or chaos has scattered me from my center.
One reason the rock brings me back to my grateful center is that the friend who gave it to me is a friend who brings me back to center as well. Those kind of friendships are rare and precious, which return us to the beauty of inspiration. Those cherished friendships remind me that inspiration still inhabits even the darkest days of the world, however dormant it may be at times.
It reminds me that we are all river stones for each other, if we commit ourselves to being so, and if we also commit to compassion for each other whenever we are less. That is why we gather in gratitude, with consciousness and commitment; and why we must all carry it out into the wider world to the others who need it—especially to those who do not even know that they need it, or that they are lacking from its absence. We all need to find respite in another deep breath, so that we can be a touchstone of gratitude, more than just simply hold one.