Advent Day 8: I’m grateful for blessings and prayers.

As you probably know, if you’ve been reading some of my previous entries, I’m not the religious type. I’m spiritual, but I’m really not into organised, doctrinal religion. Nonetheless, I find it touching when anyone– friends or family– of any religion tell me that they “say prayers for me” (for whatever reason). I mean, it’s a kind thing to do, when you’re busy talking to your god, to take the time to put in a good word for someone else, especially if that person is having a rough time. It’s like sending out good vibes into the universe on their behalf, to soothe someone else’s Karma.

So, I’m grateful for blessings and prayers.

Great, rollicking conversations.

Yesterday night, I had one of those wonderful mentally stimulating conversations in which a group of informed and opinionated people from diverse backgrounds (in this case, including two experts in their fields) argue passionately. You know that rule about never asking a PhD candidate about what he or she is writing? There’s a reason for that. Apparently, you could inadvertently fundamentally ruffle the professional feathers of someone else in a group, and then you start an ideological war, and then you end up with a table of previously-cordial acquaintances trying to yell at and over each other in a pub full of people watching two different World Cup soccer matches. And then you realise you are part of the melee.

Honestly, I had quite a bit of fun. 🙂 But it occurred to me not to consider a peacekeeping career any time soon.

Been a while since I’ve had a feisty intellectual discussion like that. I’m grateful for those!

Visits from friends from home.

Anyone who has lived overseas for any long period will know how warm and fuzzy receiving visitors from home can be, especially when they’re close friends. If you love where you’re living, you get to make memories in your beloved new city with people you love, and if you don’t, well, they’re a lifeline, a top-up of the emotional tank, a dose of warmth and love.

I’m always grateful for visits from good friends I love, wherever I have been or am in the world.

Packages from home.

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Well, ok, one of my homes. A friend recently sent me a book (above) that she had written and that had been published, which made me laugh so hard (the book made me laugh, not the fact that she was published). She also sent another book she thought I would enjoy. It reminded me of all the times my dear friends took the time and effort to send me things from home– a Melburnian friend once sent a book by a Melbourne author to my apartment in Germany because she knew I had been missing Melbourne; another tried to sneak a mooncake in the post from Singapore to Melbourne; a group of friends sent a porcelain mug for my birthday…

I’m grateful for the countless times I’ve received unexpected packages from home, especially at the lonely end of a cold winter’s day at work or classes far from my friends and original family, or the melange of places that I call “home”. Because if home is where the heart is, then home, for me, is where my friends and family are.

Unexpected new friends.

I love it when I go to, for example, a housewarming party at which I don’t really know many people and think, oh, I won’t stay long… But then end up meeting someone or some people so delightfully on the same wavelength that I’m tuned into and end up chatting and laughing so much that, before we know it, it’s 1 in the morning.

I suppose it’s particularly rare for someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, is a bit of an introvert and doesn’t like smoke and loud noise. 🙂 So, I’m grateful for unexpected new friends!

I’m grateful for followers and feedback.

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Goodness. When I started this blog, it was an attempt at cultivating the practice of gratitude, in the way that many Buddhists cultivate the habit of meditation or acceptance or non-attachment (all of which I am not very good at just yet! They’re lifelong endeavours, though, I feel, for those of us without Lama-like souls).

I also hoped it would attract people who had been similarly called/forced/dragged kicking and screaming to find a deeper meaning or higher spirituality in life, and vice versa, of course; thus becoming part of a community of those engaged in the search.

I’m very honoured and privileged to be a small and fleeting but regular part of the lives of other travellers through this life, and for their unique insights and often lovely and serene, dark and macabre, practical and clever, or downright beautiful writings and muses.

I’m grateful to you. Thank you for your feedback and encouragement.

I’m grateful for old friends, too.

Yes, I know. I do talk a lot about friends. I just think they are worth celebrating without occasion at all.

Today, I met up with one of my oldest friends. Once we’d done that necessary thing you do with old friends, which is to test both your ageing memories regarding the precise moment you became friends, we realised we’d known each other for at least 22 years. There is something so precious about that, having friends who knew us before we started telling ourselves stories about the kind of people we are. Sometimes, I think my dearest friends know me better than I know myself.

In phases of change, my old friends, like my original family, are my anchor and my still horizon.