Gratitude

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My younger selves would be proud of me for who I am and what my life looks like today.

This thought has been hanging around my awareness like a gorgeous Yachats fog cloud for the last 48 hours.

On Monday I had lunch with my friend Stephan, whom I first met at a personal development workshop back in 2009 and hadn’t seen in 12 years. (Wonderful meal at Top Burmese!)

The potential for self-exploration through making beautiful connections lights me up — to see myself mirrored through someone else’s eyes, whether in the moment or across the distance of many years.

I’ve found the importance of gratitude in my life, and though I have a regular practice for paying attention to it, our own perspectives can be understandably limited to the here and now: the uplifting conversation with a close friend, the check that arrived in the mail, the person who said I love you, the perfect latte.

While staying rooted in the present matters to me, I’m finding an even deeper well of gratitude in noticing how far I’ve come, and how extraordinary and mind-blowing my life today would look to the James of five years ago, the Matty of 12 years ago, and the Matthew of decades past. (This may be the first a few of you are learning I changed my name. Hi!)

I think of the me a few years ago who struggled through an angry, resentful relationship with work, who tried to keep his expectations and responsibilities sufficiently low in order to avoid letting down others or being let down himself. How stunned he would be to witness not only the scope of the projects I get to work on now, but how overjoyed I feel to get to show up everyday and connect through work with people who make me feel this fucking alive.

I think of the me from the time I met Stephan, and for many years afterward, who craved a sense of purpose and a place of belonging, and who through depression and disappointment after disappointment nevertheless kept trudging forward. I’m not sure I could convey to him the level of meaning and contribution I feel through what I get to do, and how much I feel like a fantastic version of myself while doing it. I’m grateful to carry his determination with me to this day and into the future.

I think of many younger mes, who would have given anything to have even a single person who felt like a true friend. Those many versions of me, young and older, would be brought to tears to experience for a second the loving people who surround me now and the feeling of home that I first cultivated in Yachats and now get to bring with me into the present and future.

I’ve known for a moment now that I appreciate my work, the people around me, and the blessings that fill my life. Experiencing this level of perspective the last couple days though feels overwhelming in a different way.

It has not been the easiest of roads. (Nor has it been the hardest. I have a lot of privilege and many opportunities and safety nets other people don’t.) But I am grateful for it and I am happy to be here.

Thanks for reading and sharing part of our journeys together. I appreciate you. ❤️

About the author

James Kerti

Digital strategist and systems specialist, poet, former basketball scout, technically a politician.

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