The Briar Philosopher - Put on Notice

by Carmen Abner - Co-Editor

Put on Notice

“The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued.”

~Robert Frost

Folks don’t much like winter it seems. We stomp our feet and grouse and complain and wait for spring so we can not like rain and storms and lightning. Folks, in general, I have found, don’t like much of anything to hear them tell it.

“It’s too cold!” we cry in January. “It’s too hot!” we grumble in July. “It’s too wet!” we whine in April. “It’s too windy!” we rant in October. And we always seem so surprised and take it as a personal affront that seasons should be as they are.

Of course it’s not just the weather we hold in such disdain. It’s everything; our jobs, our marriages, our friends, or clothing, our hair, our teachers, our parents, our bills, and on and on until you would think we were the most miserable creatures on the planet. We spend so much time waiting for something better to happen that we often miss the good, the beauty, the love, and the lessons that are happening all around us. I think we could all use a refresher course in math because we have forgotten how to count our blessing.

Pain is inevitable, y’all.

So is heat in the summer and cold in the winter and rain in spring and wind in autumn. Suffering, however, is optional.

But we love to suffer don’t we? Go ahead. Admit it, at least to yourself. We tend to tell things worse than they are, never better and rarely accurately. We tell the stories of our trials and travails with an edge of martyrdom in our voice. And, as my Grandpa used to say, “The first liar don’t stand a chance.” We like to compete with others. You’ve noticed, I’m sure, that you can’t tell a bad day story without someone trying to tell a worse day story. Our minor complaints take on the air of Greek tragedies and our woe is far more woeful that the woe of those around us.

Now, there are folks who really do have reason to complain and to them my heart goes out. There are children right now, this minute, starving to death. There are elderly people right now, this minute, freezing, quite literally, to death. Somewhere in Indiana right now, this minute, a dear friend of mine is dying of cancer. There are, right now, people under fire, people being abused, people struggling against odds we would find unimaginable. In comparison our complaints are so trivial and petty and pointless they make us look like spoiled children who have been denied the newest toy while our closets are filled to bursting with things we cannot enjoy for want of something better.

Let’s open our closets, y’all. Let’s look again at what we already have in our lives. Let’s notice that we are warm and fed and safe and healthy. Let’s notice the people who love us and not worry so much about the people who don’t.

Try this: Once a day (set your alarm if you must) stop whatever you are doing and take a moment to notice what is good and right and warm and beautiful in your life.

Good things don’t come to those who wait nearly as often as they come to those who notice that good things are already there.

Put yourself on notice. It won’t make spring come any faster but I guarantee you won’t mind the cold so much if your heart is warmed by gratitude.