Gratitude For The “No-Toothache”

Thich Nhat Hanh writes about our human tendency to notice that which pains us and to not notice the absence of those same troubles. We complain bitterly about the toothache, but do not notice or give thanks for the “no-toothache,” for the days when the tooth does not hurt and so does not capture our attention.

Tonight, at this moment, my loved ones are safe and well. Tonight, I am also safe at my computer, closing out my thoughts for the day, my body and my life far removed from Connecticut. I feel dismay and sadness over this senseless killing, over the loss of these young lives and the lives of the adults who dedicated themselves to the education of children and the betterment of the human spirit. But my feelings are abstract, full with compassion, yet safely distant from this event. I am not a parent burying my child. I am not a husband whose wife will never return home from work, or a child whose mother will never again walk through my front door. My body has not been slammed into an entirely new existence containing only pain and horror. My memory does not rewind and replay the terror of those moments when life was stolen from so many innocents, young and old.

Tonight I notice the no-heartbreak and give thanks.


13 thoughts on “Gratitude For The “No-Toothache”

  1. Well spoken, Janet! There’s so much horror in the world, we can’t (and shouldn’t) ignore it, but we should also remember to celebrate and appreciate all the good things. I still insist (as in my blog’s header) that the world is a beautiful place. An unimaginable, terrible tragedy.. but also millions of people everywhere who come together and share a prayer for those who lost a loved one.


    1. I believe we must never let those who would inflict horror and terror destroy our appreciation of the world’s beauty, or our willingness to still love the world and others with an open heart. Otherwise, they win. Thank you so much for leaving your comment. I appreciate the support of this community of readers and bloggers.


    1. Yes – today I live in delight for the ordinary. A walk with my dog, a phone call with a friend. . . nothing “special,” yet these are the small miracles that fill my heart.


  2. Well said. Being a teacher, I felt the pain of Newtown quite deeply. At the same time, I was thankful to walk into my classroom on Monday morning because I knew I would see all of my students again – safe and sound.


    1. I imagine that as a teacher you could imagine the setting and the situation with greater detail. This event helps us notice, appreciate, and give thanks for our ordinary days, where we get to do the things we usually do without our honed attention. Sadly, more and more a day without hearing about or experiencing terror becomes something to be grateful for.


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