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Awakening Your Inner Hero

Kiss your refrigerator

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Really? Really!


I kissed mine for the first time ever last week and after just one kiss, I recommend it for everyone.

Many of you who have been reading my messages over this past year likely know I am a woodstove lover, fanatic, connoisseur...all the above and more. In my younger days, when we lived in Flagstaff, Arizona, my friends and I would take our pickup trucks into the woods nearly every weekend from the middle of August till snows blocked entry to our wood supply.

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In the past decades many things changed. Three children, much less time, no pickup trucks anymore, grandchildren, a bit more money to buy at least four cords of oak, juniper, pine and aspen to keep us cozy all winter long. We began to purchase wood from local wood cutters and made some good friends over the years. They would unload the wood in our driveway and then my divinely inspired wood activities could begin.

Most of the wood they piled in the driveway had to be spit in order to become a functional size. Chop, chop—one more piece of wood to keep us warm this winter. Wendy loaded the split wood into the wheelbarrow and rolled it to the woodshed—truly a work of art made by our neighbor, Keith. Another heavenly winter spent in front of our wood stove was in the works. Many, many hours would be spent chopping kindling, stacking wood in the house and our office downtown, cleaning out the ashes...and ultimately enjoying the gift of wood.

Fast forward.

Now we live in Bend. I told our realtor we would only purchase a home that already had or could have a wood stove. I don't think she had heard that one before. As it turned out, the house immediately behind our family's house, the whole reason for moving here, came on the market. We bought it two days later. It was no less than a miracle! As soon as was possible we installed our new wood stove in our living room. There were more wood deliveries. More splitting. And a new wood has blessedly been introduced into our lives—madrone, which grows down south in the coastal mountains and inland valleys of western Oregon. It is the heaviest, densest, hardest wood to split I've ever met. A medium-sized piece burns all night long. Nick, our new neighbor and new dear friend, is just finishing up our woodshed as I type. The second coat of stain was just sprayed on and we'll start loading it up tomorrow!

Finally, to the point of this whole story...

Last week, Wendy drove up to Bellingham, Washington, to be with family. I was left alone in our quiet home with our woodstove. The very first night I wasn't sleeping well. I missed Wendy. To help ease my loneliness, I made my way out to the living room and sat—you know where. I added a few more pieces of madrone to get the fire popping and entered my cozy heaven.

In my fire-induced meditative state, I began talking to the burning logs. I thanked both the soft wood and the hard wood for cooperating to keep our home toasty. Neither of them could do it without the other's unique qualities. I pictured them when they were growing in the forest and thanked them for spending their final days warming our bodies, hearts and souls.

I was wood-merized.

And then it happened... Somehow my head turned toward the refrigerator in the kitchen, and like a lightning bolt it hit me. I have spent untold hundreds of hours thanking our wood, wood stoves, our suppliers, our warm lives and never once have I ever thanked our refrigerator. Not once! Guilt began to set in. How could I have been so blind?

Fortunately, I've learned over the years the true purpose of guilt. It is not only to make us feel badly about our wrongdoings, but primarily it awakens us to make amends and learn from our errant behavior. Guilt is a blessing when we use it for what it was designed for—to guide us quickly back toward the light.

I made my way to the refrigerator and told it I was sorry. Really sorry. I've expressed my gratitude to the woodstove forever, but not once to our fridge. In the big picture, our fridge is way more important to our lives than our woodstove. What would we do without it? I hugged and kissed it. Thanked it and soaked in its inestimable value and promised to thank it more often.

Taking things for granted. That is our number one individual and societal illness. We too easily forget how dependent we are every moment of our lives.

Gratitude is simply an acknowledgment of reality and ingratitude is a denial of reality.

~Wisdom of the Sages

Thank you, dear refrigerator, for reminding me to share my gratitude way, way more often.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

—Burt Gershater is a counselor, leadership trainer, speaker and writer. He can be reached at info@burtgershater.com

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