“My grandchildren taught me how to use Uber,” my Grampa shared with delight last night as we headed downtown to enjoy our second symphony music concert experience together this year.
Unfortunately, I had to miss the last two music concerts he invited me to because I had been working too much, wasn’t feeling well as a result and I no longer push myself when I need to rest.
Tonight was a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No.7, which my Grampa explained to me and our Uber driver, that he first heard in 1939 when he was a freshman in college. Apparently Beethoven’s 7th symphony was the only record that was available in his college dormitory when he arrived so he listened to it repeatedly on a phonograph.
The recording consisted of a set of 12-inch shellac records that rotated at 78RPM on a turntable with a needle reading the music. He explained how he had to either flip the record over or set up the next record every five minutes back in that time.
It was my Grampa’s favorite piece of music of all time and we were headed to see it performed live by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which had been recorded playing the piece in 1936 on his original record set. He was excited and so was I!
He chatted the whole way downtown with me and our driver about his college memories, which took place over 75 years ago.
As we were sitting in the front row watching the amazing performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, which must be one of the most beautiful musical compositions in human history, I noticed I was feeling well.
And I started to focus on my well-being as a source of gratitude. My thoughts went something like this…
I am SO grateful to be sitting next to one of the most brilliant men I have ever met. I am grateful my Grampa is alive and well at 94 years old.
I am grateful to be at this incredible performance, an experience I never would have enjoyed if not for his love of classical music.
I am certainly grateful to be in the front row literally seeing the sweat glisten on the conductor’s brow.
I also began to cultivate feelings of gratitude for NOT having a headache.
I felt grateful for not having any pain in my body.
I felt grateful for not experiencing any dizziness or vertigo.
I felt grateful for not having any undesirable feelings of worry, despair or hopelessness.
I felt grateful that I was not vomiting at that moment.
I felt grateful that I was not pulled over on the side of the road, hunched over throwing up on a curb with a man walking his dog nearby asking if I needed any help like last week and responding, “No, I just have a really bad headache and I am trying to get home.”
I felt grateful that I was not even a little bit nauseous. I was literally feeling completely well.
And I realized that I could not have felt SO GRATEFUL for the simple act of sitting there like a normal person feeling fine if I had not suffered so deeply on an ongoing, intermittent basis for the last 30 years. So from my extreme suffering was born deep happiness with what may have seemed like an ordinary experience for most people of “feeling well in my human body” at that moment.
I breathed, smiled, soaked in the beautiful music, reveled in my good fortune at enjoying my grandfather’s company and focused on feeling incredibly grateful for my well-being.
An attitude of gratitude can be a powerful force in improving quality of life. Feeling grateful for my well-being is one of my strategies I now use to generate more peace, joy and create even more well-being in my life.
After the symphony performance, my grandfather leaned over to whisper to me, “I knew every note. I have heard that piece over 200 times in the last 77 years and I never grow tired of it. Can you believe Beethoven was practically deaf when he composed that symphony?”
I smiled at him as he finished his commentary on the performance with “It is one of the best things about this human experience.”
That I was finally able to spend time with this 94 year-old man who has been so important in my life since the day I was born…
That I didn’t have to cancel on him like I did the last two times we were supposed to attend a musical event together when I needed to rest…
That today, I was here with him, enjoying myself and feeling well. And my life was enriched as a result.
My Grampa’s eyes were sparkling brightly as we stepped out front of Copley Symphony Hall in downtown San Diego and he pulled out his iPhone to call Uber to take us home. It was then that I realized both of our lives were enriched by the time we spend together.
This is one of my favorite Bible quotes about cultivating a heart of gratitude: