Do you ever use a word and wonder if you are using it correctly? I do and I did this morning. All I was doing was searching for coffee and croissants. Simple task. And then…
As I wandered the damp, quiet streets of the French Quarter in the early morning, I found myself feeling emotional. You know that feeling that starts brewing in your stomach (no, not that feeling), moves up through your heart, lodges in your throat, and then exits through your tears? That’s what I was feeling as I wandered the streets admiring the architecture and the sounds of the Quarter waking up. I walked with this feeling trying to identify what was causing it. My first answer was that it was a deep feeling of being so blessed.
Hmmm…blessed? Blessed. Was that the right word? Let’s see, according to the dictionary it means...consecrated, sacred, holy, sanctified. Definitely not the right word. Another definition is worthy of adoration, reverence, worship, divinely or supremely favored. That’s an hilarious thought. How about fortunate? Closer, but not quite right. Blissfully happy or contented? Closer yet. But I’m still not sure that any of those last three (fortunate, blissfully happy or contented) quite define my early morning emotion.
So what was it? I definitely felt a sense of conflict in my emotion as I thought about it which complicated the feeling. There was a sense of being fortunate. I mean, having the opportunity at this point of our life to live this life is definitely fortunate. But doesn’t fortunate intimate luck? Do I feel lucky? Yes and no. I know some of my luck comes from the privilege of my skin color. There are hurdles in life for people who don’t look like me that I didn’t even know existed, let alone experienced. There is definitely luck in life, but there’s also hard work and hard choices. We’ve done both. So yes, we’ve been fortunate and…I guess this is where my feeling of conflict comes up. I/we have worked hard and made hard choices. But we aren’t alone in that effort and others work even harder and make even harder choices with different results. Where’s their luck or fortune? Our luck or fortune has provided us opportunities for success. Sort of like being in the right place at the right time, but more like being the right person with the right tools. Skin color, zip codes, and other privileges can’t be the systematic deciding factors in determining one’s luck. That’s just not right and it’s not sustainable in our society.
So I’ve got to move on to…blissfully happy or contented? I guess maybe contented is closest? The dictionary says it means satisfied with what one has; not wanting more or anything else. Yes, if I’m just considering my own situation and not others. And so it’s still not quite right. I can’t be content when others don’t have the luck of experiencing the same feeling – of being the right person with the right tools.
Maybe the word I’m looking for is grateful: warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received. True. Not a complete explanation, but true both aspects are true. And back to blessed? Definitely not a word for me in its dictionary sense. My interpretation of it works better for me: born into luck, having good fortune and figuring out what to do with it. I think I’ll just live with those thoughts for now.
So back to my early morning wandering…I was beginning our search for the best croissant and coffee in the French Quarter. Still searching…