Finding Gratitude

by Aqueela Zoll

Gratitude is something that becomes a hot topic this time of year. With Turkey Day, the prospect of Christmas, pumpkin pie and whipped cream, what’s not to be grateful for right? Honestly though, it is a great season to revisit what we’re grateful for, or to be reminded to find something to be grateful for – there’s always something.

When was a specific time that you can recall feeling absolutely grateful? Perhaps it was a time when everything seemed like it was going right in life (I’m happy for you if that’s the case). It could have been during a time of great accomplishment financially or in training. Maybe the last time you were incredibly grateful was when nothing seemed to be going right, things were falling apart, but the shit going on around you aided in a gained perspective on the value of simplicity. I don’t know maybe it’s been all of the above. Take a second in your busy day – tell yourself it’s an acting exercise so you’ll actually commit to it – and explore your memories for something specific. A specific moment with details on that memory’s gratitude.

Here’s a glimpse at one of mine…
I remember sitting in my Creative Arts class at Shasta College in the spring of 2009 on a Tuesday morning. It was my first class of the day, I was a sophomore in college & pre-med bound. I remember having nothing but my notebook and a blue ink pen on my desk. I recall my professor moving around the front of the classroom with her words and with her hands; she could barely move and still look like she was dancing, as if to music. I was staring at the blank piece of white paper in my notebook and spinning the blue ink pen around in my right hand effortlessly. I could spin it by this time out of habit. I no longer needed to watch my movement in order to do it successfully. On this particular Tuesday morning I was embracing the white page staring up at me, while spinning my blue pen, and switching to watch my professor dance with her words.

Why can I recall this Tuesday morning more than another Tuesday morning that same year? I believe it’s because I experienced clarity in my own form of sincere gratitude. I was grateful I was in Creative Writing and wasn’t in anatomy class, even though I loved anatomy. I was grateful I was studying the concept of a blank white page, rather than Physiology Lab, even though I was a top student in the course. I was grateful I was awake and wanted to be, even after only 3.5 hours of sleep preparing for anatomy practicum exams. I was grateful that I was in a space that would not grade my ability by my intelligence of right or wrong answers; but on my freedom and diligence – something only I could give myself- things that were reflected in a personal desire to create: my art, my words, my stories. For one of the first times in my life, it was clear that I discovered gratefulness for something that held absolutely no guarantee of my success; and I loved it. I didn’t continue on as a pre-med student. That Creative Writing class was my first experience doing something not just because I was good at it and not even because I loved it, but because I was inspired by it.

At this time in my life I relate the word gratitude to freedom, love, and adventure; three things I could never see myself without. Each of which exist in large capacity for me now in one way or another. In many ways, each has a birth from working and training with Inner Circle Theatre. I haven’t the slightest clue if this will be read by just ICT members or random surfers on the web who somehow want to see what googling “Inner Circle” brings up. I do know however that if anyone reading is having difficulty recognizing something to be grateful for in their life my advice is this: if you’re sitting down, get up. If you’re standing up, sit down. If you’re laying down, roll over. If you can’t move your body, move your eyes. If you can’t see, wave a hand. If you don’t have anyone to wave to, flip the bird and say “f*ck off I’ll be grateful or ungrateful whenever I choose.” Then be grateful you have that choice.

ICT has taught me a lot in acting, in business, and in life. I’m grateful for all of them.
-I make choices
-I get to make choices
-I live in specific choices

So as backwards as it may sound, if you’re not feeling grateful for anything, remember how you somehow feel pleased with not having to say you’re grateful for anything, then say “f*ck it” and be grateful for that.