They Actually Clapped!

Heres the scene:   Maybe around 50 people, some on their own, some as couples or in small groups, had gathered at First Encounter Beach at Cape Cod on an August night to watch the sun go down.  As the sun got lower people moved closer to the water, some touching the water with their toes.  They wanted to be as close as they could.  It was one of those sunsets where the sun literally looks like it's on fire.  It doesn't take long - not as long as we think.  We all knew that, we've seen them before.  That's why no one wanted to miss it.  So we got closer, gluing our eyes to the horizon.  Every few seconds lower and lower.  I decided to start counting in my head.  How long does it actually take when it looks like it's just hovering above the horizon line?  Turns out 76 seconds.  And then it was gone.  And they clapped.  I didn't.  The applause caught me by surprise, reminding me of times total strangers break into applause when a plane lands after a lot of turbulence.  So much gratitude to have survived.  But a sunset?  That happens every night, that wasn't at risk of not happening?  And yet, as it disappeared like clockwork I was in awe, reminding myself how this works, that this happens every night and for my relatives on the west coast it hasn't happened yet.  Something so regular at that moment felt miraculous.  Maybe that's why they clapped.  Their applause touched me.  As if they were cheering nature on.  Proud of it.  Showing their appreciation.  It's not that they had any doubt it would happen.  It was a given.  That didn't matter though.  At that moment it wasn't about logic, facts, science.  It was about a different natural order of things.  That celebrating the ordinary, being moved by nature is itself a natural thing.  Too often people are unwilling to celebrate what they're really good at, what comes easy, what's natural to them, because it's just that...natural.  No big deal.  But if they overcome some major challenge, strengthen a weakness, do something they thought they couldn't do, well, that's worth celebrating.  Of course that's true. AND its also true that we should celebrate our natural gifts, what comes seemingly easy to us.  The strengths movement tells us that when we know our strengths, find opportunities to use and grow our strengths we're 6 times more likely to be satisfied in life.  Making appreciation and gratitude for our many gifts -  for those things that come naturally to us - into a regular practice has been proven to boost our mood, increase effectiveness and contribute to an overall sense of happiness.  Like a sunset that happens every single night, our natural gifts can be celebrated for the miracles that they are.

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