When the window you're tugging at won't open

Some windows seem impossible to open. Even when they're not, it's as though they are painted shut. We tug and tug and tug and tug and the window just won't open. We feel trapped -- no air -- why won't this darn window open? These windows are important to us to open for one reason or another. The breeze from behind calls out to us by name. And so we tug on, and the struggle is beautiful in it's own stubborn way.
I have one of those windows. It's a dream. I want to be a writer-illustrator. I love the work so much, but it’s challenging to find a good way of sharing my work. So I tug on.

Then there are other windows that swing open with hardly a fuss. They clunk open without much effort. The breeze comes in and fills us with life without our even trying. These windows can be easy to take for granted. When they are noticed though, their breezes are so refreshing; they offer a jolt of energy. It’s strength for the journey.

I’ve a few of these windows too. I was putting together my annual holiday card the other day, choosing pictures from the past year that would be fun to share. The obvious struck me: I've had a crazy year of unexpected opportunities. This year I've traveled by boat through the Panama Canal, ridden an elephant through a jungle in Thailand, witnessed the grandiosity of a World Expo in Shanghai, traveled on a colorful floral bike trickshaw in Melaka, visited countless artist studios in Bali, and lived with a view of one of the tallest buildings in the world outside my window. And I've done all this with a three-year-old in tow. Wow! Wow! Wow! Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been easy to be an ex-pat, but I have also had amazing opportunities that feel a bit like they landed in my lap, and for that I'm deeply grateful.

It’s important to keep tugging at difficult dreams that call us by name. Essential. Apathy for one’s dreams is not a desirable quality in my opinion. But neither are jealousy or bitterness – both attitudes that can set in without taking the time to appreciate a larger picture.

Without looking around a bit, occasionally looking past the tunnel vision that comes with beloved goals, and cultivating a grateful heart, we sometimes don’t notice the fresh air of another wonderful window, open right in front of us. Maybe it's an opportunity that landed right on our laps, a loved one's continued support, or an adventure we had not even known we could take.

I don't dwell on this, or write about it to invoke guilt in myself or others, but as a sincere offering of gratitude for the good in life. For me, I've found that cultivating a grateful heart is the number one thing that eases the hardships that are a natural part of any journey that requires endurance.

While we struggle for some important change or discovery or accomplishment, we also often have the opportunity to breathe, should we accept it. And that's a beautiful thing to remember.

I won’t quit tugging at that big dream, as I said: it has my name on it, true as true. But I’m so, so, so grateful that another dream I wasn’t even trying for came true this year.

Look around. What blessings aren’t you noticing? They might even be obvious if you look for them. They might be right in front of you.

Have you looked?

Do so.

Then go back to tugging at whatever window needs tugging, hopefully a little refreshed.