Attitude for gratitude
“Even if you don’t have all the things you want,
be grateful for the things you don’t have that you don’t want.”
Among the most profound influences on our perception of the passage of time is our surroundings. Despite the common threads of island geography and multicultural heritage that Venice and New York share, time appears to unfold with markedly different rhythms in each place. Where the hustle of a New York minute passes in a second, everyone seemingly caught in a rush to get nowhere, Venice’s laid-back tempo makes every day feel like it contains the experiences of an entire week, the urgency to be somewhere a notion that seems to have lost its way in the serenity of the city’s calles and canals. This unhurried pace suited Mariano admirably, affording him the space he needed to realize his inventions and creative musings.
In both cities, the clocks are customarily sprung forward and flipped back annually, as if time were a negotiable currency, borrowed and repaid at our discretion with no heed given to the accrued interest. Instead of pretending to control time, perhaps our focus would be better directed toward maximizing what we do with the moments we have been granted. Time, one of the great equalizers alongside death, marches steadily forward with impartiality, indifferent to status, wealth, race, or creed. As C.S. Lewis eloquently noted, “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” Paradoxically, the more we yearn for time to hasten, the slower it seems to drip, and conversely, the desire to slow it down only seems to propel it forward with an accelerated velocity. These paradoxes, like the watched pot that refuses to boil and time’s fleeting nature during moments of enjoyment, underscore the importance of our focus, whether fixated on future anticipation or immersed in the present.
Understanding that our perception of time is molded by the focus of our awareness urges us to be mindful to invest our attention on the good in the world, such as light, gratitude, and beauty. Just as beauty resides within all things, so too does gratitude. Choosing to illuminate our lives with gratitude, not just in the waning days of November or during festive occasions, but as a constant companion, enriches our experience of time, even when we are faced with challenges and confronted with circumstances that unfold differently than we may hope.