“‘Red is my color,’ I used to say. Just because I liked it best, I owned it. How many other things have I claimed as mine so easily? Whistling and sunshine, life and liberty. Things that can be lost. For most of us, life presents itself as a steady progress toward owning more, but having less. Vision, acuity, even walking—one bad fall taught me that was only a gift on loan. Then my broken leg healed and walking was mine again.”
This is the opening passage to Barbara Kingsolver’s article The Color Red in AARP Magazine. My mother ripped it out of a magazine and mailed it to me last year. Reading it, I willed the very pages of the magazine to seep into me and I vowed to myself that I would live
my life remembering that everything I “have” is simply a gift. A loan.
This passage touches and humbles me.
Now, please know that I admit to being very cranky at times. When I haven’t eaten, Kosta looks at me sideways afraid that “The Monster” might come out. I mutter at other drivers. I practically tap dance in line at the post office because I have to keep moving, gotta get to the next place in my day… And then I think of this passage and take a deep breath. I attempt to inhale gratitude. I remind myself of how lucky I am to have food when I need it, the ability to operate a vehicle, legs to stand on in line at the post office, and eyesight so that I can take photographs.
I am making the effort to remove the word “my” from the vocabulary that I use. Because I don’t own “my boyfriend Kosta” or “my eyesight” or “my clients”. They, like everything else, are both fleeting, temporary gifts that I am incredibly lucky to experience.
It isn’t always practical to remove “my”. And you will catch me slip. But just by making the effort not to use the word, I am reminded of how blessed I am.
And speaking of gifts, a particularly sweet one: delicious little chocolates left on my desk by Kosta, just because. 🙂 Thank you. I’m grateful for you, and chocolates.