I’ve been thinking about gratitude a lot lately. Is it possible to feel the emotion of gratitude if there is no person, or even no entity, to be grateful toward? Christians would characterize gratitude as a rightly cultivated feeling towards God. Buddhists encourage the cultivation of gratitude, as well, but Buddhists are not theists. Would Buddhists say the gratitude is an attitude towards the universe, the flow of life, the Way? As in, would Buddhist still have a “target” for their gratitude? Is “gratitude” the right word to use for the warm, humble emotion that characterizes gratitude if it is unattached and non-directed? Or would something like “relief” be more apt?
This COVID situation is long, dull, slow, monotonous, and mind-numbing. I’m actually quite glad I had a Hegel paper to focus on because I couldn’t go anywhere anyway even if the state weren’t on lockdown. Too much reading and writing due. Also, it kept my brain occupied and staves off some of the mind-numbing. But good grief. I’m so ready for it to be safe to circulate in the world again. Things are opening up, which is both wonderful and scary. (Our nation’s testing capabilities are… not great.)
Speaking of Hegel, my professor sent me the most amazingly complimentary and supportive email of my LIFE regarding my work. He said the paper was “really very impressive” and “excellent” and that I “should be proud of this paper.” He also dropped a “Wow!”. When I shared that email with my therapist, she asked “So has that helped you move past your impostor syndrome?” And I think it has. The feedback gave me a huge boost of confidence. There’s always been a part of me that worried I wasn’t smart or talented enough to succeed in a graduate program in philosophy. I now know that I am capable. I got the most positive feedback of my academic life on a graduate philosophy paper on Hegel. Wherein I tried to argue something new about Hegel. That’s, like, the scariest paper situation I’ve tackled so far. I really think that I have my newfound commitment to honesty to thank. It may not seem like it, but honesty has come with a whole host of other personal growth efforts, such as being ok with not knowing something, learning for the sake of learning (not to prove to anyone that I’m smarter than I am), and giving time and work to building out my ideas as worthy of being built out. Anyway, I have saved that email and plan to read it anytime I get insecure about my smartz and abilities.
I think I’ve mentioned this, but I was cleared by my PT to run again! I got new shoes to celebrate the occasion. I’ve worked up to my Sunday 9-mile program again, which is so nice. I do a mix of 1/4 walking + 3/4 run for each mile. I’m definitely not training for anything, time or distance, I’m just focused on keeping my form perfect and my abs engaged. Everything. In. The. Back. Comes. Down. To. Engaged. Abs.
Speaking of abs… My physical therapy is quite time-intensive and kind of sweaty these days. My PT is kicking my butt. But also: MY ABS ARE ROCK SOLID. Every exercise has an ab component, as I need to learn how to stabilize myself with my abs to take pressure off my back, so basically I’m doing core work every single day. Also my shoulders are looking tooiiight because lots of the ab work has a shoulder component. I may have to incorporate some of these PT moves into my on-going workout routine once the gym is open again, to try to keep these boulder shoulders. Folks, to get rock hard abs and boulder shoulders, all you need to do is herniate a disc so bad that the MRI technician actually tries to comfort you after your scan. Do you think people would pay me for that workout plan?