I learned a few weeks ago that gratitude is a close relative to forgiveness. Once expressed these two cousins both offer their own flavor of transformation. Thank goodness! I was getting sick from the built up gratitude in my heart. The yet-to-be-expressed sentiments for kindness that served as oxygen to me had not exhaled.
It’s not that I hadn’t felt gratitude. I’d written thank you notes to incredibly kind folks in my head. The letters became like notes I’d meant to pass on to my friends in fourth grade but found months later in my backpack. Deeply creased, dusty, stained, and late, but no less heartfelt and no less true. The origami of gratitude sat like cranes that never flew, never delivering their message.
It was too late, or so I thought. I’d slipped into ‘this is beyond embarrassing’ territory having envisioned grand and decadent expressions of thanks met by little to no external action. Gratitude had overwhelmed my heart but too often not spilled over into proper expression. Even so, it had been there and still was. That’s when I learned that unexpressed gratitude must be exhaled for us to ever fully take a breath it in again.
But really, I was starting to feel like a jerk. So many gestures, words, offers and acts of kindness had crossed my threshold of new motherhood, new projects, encouragement, gifts, and so on. I was blessed with showers of kindness over the year (well, a year-plus). And I was letting that get tainted internally by guilt and self-loathing around it. I was so behind and didn’t think I could ever catch up. I was embarrassed.
But ‘thank you’ has no expiration date.
Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to do what we can from where we’re at. The vision we have might be getting in the way of getting the fundamental task done. We get in our own way. Even with something as simple as ‘thank you’. Why? Because we want it to be profound and forget it’s that the bottom line is what matters, even beyond our well-intentioned notions of grandeur.
I leaned into my acknowledgement- 1000 paper cranes from my heart, all in a deep bow letting these incredible souls know the impact they made on me. And within the folds of the cranes was deep gratitude that soared, thanking them for words, gestures and the kindness that had stolen my breath at times and been oxygen to my soul.
This works for other radical, life-shifting expressions and sentiments too- as long as they are sincere and authentic. The aforementioned forgiveness, love, condolences, empathy, kindness, and many more emotionally intelligent super heroes are ready for us to call upon them. Even when we feel like it might be too late, they are ready to free us from the emotional traps (from binds to prisons) we have placed ourselves. When we realize their power is perhaps changed but not diminished by time, we can fully live in the essence of forgiveness, love, condolences, empathy, kindness and now for me, gratitude.
We feel powerful emotions deeply. And until they are expressed they are a tourniquet on our hearts and that pressure builds. I invite you to let it flow. You’ve done the work, held the sentiment, now put it out into the world. See what happens.
Let the fog of unexpressed sentiment and feeling lift. Even at times if it can be quite beautiful inside, it is still a veil between you and the rest of the world. And one between you and letting those cranes soar.
And there is more to come from my gratitude. Perhaps the greatest gifts to acknowledge and thank. In the interim, know that gratitude fills my heart. And it is on its way to you.
What needs to come from your heart? What is ready? What is being tainted by time or embarrassment that it has yet to be expressed?
It’s not too late. It never is. Let it soar.