Who would of thought I would capture treasure from a car park experience, treasures of gratitude from and to my youngest daughter.
Christmas shopping means fighting eager drivers for the undercover car park or car parking spaces at all. My time had come to fight the fight. My youngest child knows me very well and had already started to counsel me on the drive to the shopping centre. “Ok now breathe Mum. You know the next couple hours of your life are not going to be your favourite, but we have a mission to accomplish and I have to get to work.” My eyes rolled in my head; I was already conjuring up images of people raising their fists at me with laser beams streaming from their eyes as I tried to find a car park in what seemed an impossible mission, everyone fighting for the last one and creatively parking so it was impossible for you to get out when your shopping was done.
Since undertaking my subject “Gratitude in Education” for my degree I have come to look at the world in a different light. Time is now spent reflecting on my experiences of adversity and the opportunity for them to teach me new lessons in life, my opportunity for personal growth. Reflecting on gratitude and what the practice of gratitude is, has given me an opportunity for a more fulfilling life rather than simply existing from day to day, repeating the same routine without truly feeling the experience as it is lived. With this in mind, I put forward a positive thought and proceeded to find a car park. Within ten minutes I had achieved success. Only one vigorous fist wave from a cranky driver and I had found an empty car park. With biggest task accomplished I was able to drop daughter off to work and begin the shopping list.
Four hours passed and I trudged back to the car park, proud of myself for thanking each and every customer service member with sincerity for their service, smiling at fellow shoppers, helping a lost tourist, I felt genuinely great and gave myself a pat on the back for still remaining positive for the experience. I clicked the locks to the car, unpacked the items from my trolley and removed a wayward trolley from the front end of my car. I didn’t think much about the wayward trolley until I was returning. There down side of my car, someone or something had made a large gash in my paint work. Anger rose inside me, who could do that, obvious damage and walk away without leaving a note? I voiced my opinions to my daughter. She remained calm, guided me to my side of car and into my seat.
“Mum there are options you know.”
“Really?” was my response “And please tell me what they happen to be.”
Quietly she said “Anger, screaming and tanty kicking or forgiveness and google for a band aid.”
I burst into laughter, a band aid for the car, now I had heard it all. I backed out of the car park and headed towards home. My daughter was busy tapping on her phone, I assumed talking to her friends as she had been off line for five hours now and for a teenager this seems like a life time.
No during the twenty minute ride home she had found a band aid for my car, yep someone has created them and I’m sure is making a fortune. She also found an app called “Unstuck”. This app helps you to see and solve situations with fresh perspective through provocative questions, targeted tips, and action-orientated tools. What a fantastic tool to assist us through potentially challenging times. I have now added the app to my phone for such an occasion.
Later that night as I crawled into bed and reflected on my day I realised that not only do I look at life differently, so too do my children. In moments of adversity, my daughter looked for options rather than getting bogged down with the issue. Humour was served as a tool to relieve a stressful situation and bring clarity to the situation. Nothing was life threatening just disappointing that someone was not thoughtful enough to be responsible for their actions.
While we are in the middle of adversity, caught in the eye of the storm, it may be almost impossible to practice gratitude. It is the time after the event when we can contemplate areas where we might be able to respond with gratitude, to reflect on what the situation can teach us. (Howells, 2012, p. 112).
American playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder said “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” As I lay in bed my emotions were acknowledged, my heart was happy, I felt so proud that my child could put things into perspective so easily when faced with adversity. Grateful for the opportunity for both of us to learn a little bit more about the true essence of humanity, supporting each other through good times and bad with a little laughter thrown in.