Wednesday, September 16, 2009


A few days ago, I rewatched City of Joy with Patrick Swayze. He plays a disenchanted American doctor who abandons everything he knows; including leaving his profession and his country to start anew in India. As this man falls apart, his passion for life subsides including his desire to help heal people. It would take the example of another man who seemingly has nothing to revitalize Swayze’s lost hopes.

In this film one sees India from both an insider and outsider perspective as we witness the events surrounding not only Swayze’s character, an American living in a third world country, but the happenings of an Indian man indigenous to his culture and milieu played by Om Puri. The two are destined to come together in friendship and partner with one another to help create a better living circumstance for the community.

The first time I saw this film in the theater 17 years ago I was in a different place spiritually and focused solely on the amount of violence that was being depicted (and of course how cute Patrick Swayze was). What struck me most seeing it this time around was the overwhelming sense of gratitude that was the underlying current throughout the movie.

Puri’s portrayal of a husband and father trying to keep his family above water moved me greatly. Even after many trials and tribulations Puri never loses hope. The family is displaced from their home. His children can not attend school because he is jobless. When he finally finds employment, it is not easy work. He becomes a rickshaw driver who races through his town barefoot pulling people of all sizes to their destinations. His family lives in extreme poverty and they experience brutality from overlords in their daily life. Yet, through it all, a deep sense of community within his family and his neighbors exists and smiles abound on his face after a hard day running through the dirty streets. All work is honest work and he was content.

As I continued watching, I felt almost silly for my own ingratitude. Here I had been complaining about money and my living situation which of course didn’t hold a candle to the scarcity of material goods these people had endured. As grateful as I am, I still complain about so much. I know, of course, that this is simply creating more lack in my life, but knowing it has done little to change it. People from the third world, on the other hand, have so little yet they experience God fully and are grateful for everything they do have. Who is more at peace?

Gratitude creates a shift in one’s energetic plane. People see a gracious person differently than others. They are attracted to them and want to be near them whereas they unconsciously want to run away from an ungrateful person. I have seen both sides of the coin first hand and I have understood this to be true, but I have never felt appreciation at the core level of my being no matter what the circumstance.

In the past when I felt my lack of gratitude popping up in my mind, I would quickly alter my way of thinking and throw in a positive affirmation of gratitude. As with anything we are trying to learn, it is certainly important to ‘practice’ being grateful by changing your thoughts, but once you have the a-ha moment and really learn it at the soul level, that is when the shift occurs.

Life is a gift, with so many miracles every day. So often these every day occurrences simply go unnoticed and perceive the world as a dark place. The reality is that every moment we are here is a miracle. The seemingly simple act of breathing is taken for granted every day. Breath is life. With each inhalation we are creating a new beginning.

I am grateful to God for each new day. I have learned many lessons and have overcome many hurdles. I cherish each and every moment and celebrate my life as a victory. Any adverse situation is merely an opportunity to learn and I am thankful for it all.


As I sit at my computer jotting down a few words about this movie I watched the previous night, I take a break and discover that Patrick Swayze passed away from cancer. I pray for his family and I wish him well. I have gratitude for having the pleasure of seeing most of his movies. And just a few hours before he left this planet, he gave me another gift; the gift of understanding the beauty of gratitude. I thank him with all my heart and wish him peace and serenity in the next phase of his journey.

Thank you for reading and Namaste! (The Light in me recognizes the Light in you!)

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