My daughter Naomi wrote these words in her journal when she was seventeen. This was at the beginning of her intense, two year struggle with cancer that ended with her death.
As with so many of her thoughts she wrote during that period, they hold wisdom, especially since life turned cruel and painful for her but did not dim her love.
Now, nineteen years since Naomi’s passing, I find it useful and transformative to use the word “opportunity” as a mental concept during activities. Especially in situations that might be annoying or perhaps I don’t relish.
Here are recent examples:
I am sitting at the wheel of my car, stuck in traffic or at a red light that seems too long: Thanks for the opportunity to wait peacefully.
Cleaning debris and trash out of the back of my van: Thanks for the opportunity to do something simple and use my body to make the environment better.
Obey the Baha’i fast, abstaining from food or water from sunrise to sunset for nineteen days: Thanks for the opportunity to strengthen my will and offer my body joyfully to my Lord during these special hours.
Doing the paperwork to file my taxes: Thanks for the opportunity to be organized and see my transactions spanning the last year.
This practice can be used for everything—from doing dishes, to cleaning a yard, being in a crowd, lost, at the doctor—anything.
Almost any occasion can be turned to advantage when we see it as opportunity. Naomi did. Even her end was an opportunity. Having lost her battle to win the “acres and acres” of life she so longed to have, then suffocating as her lungs failed, she said to a friend who stood behind her wheelchair massaging her shoulders, “I love my body, it has been so good to me.” Naomi took her last moments as an opportunity to give thanks before leaving her physical frame forever.