Sadness Verifies Gratitude? Thanks Steve Jobs

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

With Steve Jobs’ recent death, there were many stories to read and hear rightfully paying tribute to this remarkable man.  In one report, I learned of his views of life and death when several years back, he responded to a reporter’s question with saying something like “Death is the one thing that verifies life.”  I’ve tried to find the exact quote by searching on the web, but to no avail.  I found something related on “…death is very likely to be the single best invention of life because death is life’s change agent.”  I guess, it truly doesn’t matter exactly what Mr. Jobs said – it matters what I took from it.  So, I’ve been pondering this idea for several days now.  Does death verify life?  Does death allow you to truly live?  It has made me think about a lot of other things in this same light.  For example, does gratitude really happen only in the context of complete loss and/or troubled times?  I’m not sure I can answer this because I do feel incredibly grateful for many things these days in spite of, or perhaps because of, my husband’s serious health woes and consequently, my less then desirable family life.  I have wondered, would I feel as grateful as I do now for the little things if I didn’t have so much sadness in my life?  Or, would I be feeling like this regardless; if everything in my life was great, would I still know how fortunate I was in so many ways?  Would I take the time to thank people, smile at the wonder of my children, and truly appreciate days that are just run-of-the-mill “normal” as gratifying?

The other night my 5 year old son and almost 3 year old daughter decided to “camp out” in my daughter’s bedroom.  They got out the pop-up tent, dragged out their sleeping mats, brought out the water bottles, the flashlights, the stuffed animals, the blankets, and pretty much anything else they could fit in the tent.  Then they turned on the “stars” and “moon” compliments of a nightlight and a child’s toy.  At one point, they had a campfire of blankets and just giggled and planned.  They were thinking, they were enjoying, and they were so content.  As I watched them with pride, I thought about how fortunate I was.  My children seem happy in spite of their daddy being so sick and his inability to interact with them as he would like.  My children were just living in the moment.  They acted on their desires, and made it happen.

Some people, I am sure, would argue that I am not strict enough with the kids and that (among other things) they should have been going to bed that camping night since it was past their bedtime.  On top of that, they were making a big mess in the bedroom and that mess was likely to be there for days following.  Still, I believe in letting people, including children, make their own decisions, taking from these decisions their own lessons, and allowing enough flexibility and freedom for people to become who they want to become.  On that particular night in question, and after considering the potential negative fallout from the camping session, I rolled the dice and thought it was fine for them to stay up awhile longer and have fun.  I was grateful for their creative minds, and will continue to do what I can to help nurture this aspect of their personalities.

As I sat back and watched my kids play, laugh, and hug one another, I was truly grateful.  I thanked God for giving me wonderful kids and for such moments.  I was reminded how fortunate I am that my kids are surrounded by many caring friends and family members who do so many nice things for us.  I was reminded how my children were playing in their bedrooms and that, despite huge medical bills and debt, we were still living in the same house and making things work.  After these minutes of true bliss and gratitude, a few moments later, I swung the other way and wondered if I would be relishing as I was if my husband was healthy and we didn’t have the years of heavy sadness and work.  Ultimately, with Steve Jobs’ help, I think I have decided that one positive from all this yuck in my life currently, is the genuine gratitude that I know.  Where I will never truly know if my gratitude would have developed and matured into what it currently is if my husband was healthy, I am certain of this: I know gratitude on a different level thanks to the adversity.  I understand genuine thankfulness and I have learned that complete sadness does verify gratitude.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by patrick beggs on October 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I think this is the epitome of 1 Thes 5:8 : give thanks in everything.

    It’s easy, well, easier, to be thankful when all is rosy, tougher to do so when it isn’t, and maybe much more rewarding and satisfying, helpful and healthy, to give thanks when everything isn’t rosy.


  2. […] Sadness Verifies Gratitude? Thanks Steve Jobs ( […]


  3. I am also learning to cultivate that attitude of gratitude. Learning to take time for the things that matter for the people that matters in our life would be a great accomplishment for anyone. I’ve recently worked with cancer stricken children as young as 3 years old…after which, I’ve understand blessings and how I need to be thankful for these everyday!

    Thank you for your wonderful post!


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