My middle name really is perseverance. I've always believed that I had talent, even when I felt like a very inferior sort of person, which I spent a lot of time living my life feeling that I wasn't worthy. But even then I knew that I had something special, and maybe that's what it takes. Maybe people need to have that kind of particular core driving them. But I felt I had talent.
When we sat down to eat I took inventory of the people in the room, and the remnants of my good mood evaporated when I realized how very little I had in common with them – the career dads, the responsible and diligent moms – and I was soon filled with dread and loneliness. I locked in on the smug feeling of superiority that married couples give off and that permeated the air – the shared assumptions, the sweet and contented apathy, it all lingered everywhere – despite the absence in the room of anyone single at which to aim this.
Gratitude is here presented as more than a feeling, a virtue, or an experience; gratitude emerges as an attitude we can freely choose in order to create a better life for ourselves and for others. The Nigerian Hausa put it this way: Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.
For me, spirituality includes the belief in things larger than ourselves, an appreciation of nature and beauty, a sensitivity to the world, a feeling of shared connection with other living things, a desire to help people less fortunate than ourselves. All of these things can occur with or without God. I do not believe in the existence of God, but I consider myself a spiritual person in the manner I have just described. I call myself a spiritual atheist. I would imagine that many people are spiritual atheists.