Sunday, 5 May 2013

Gratitude

A friend of mine, 'Reasonably Famous DJ' invited me along to a large club at which he was playing the warm up for 'Very Famous DJ' When we arrived in the DJ booth we were looking down on an empty expanse of dance floor as the evenings clubers gradually trickled in. My friend began his set, regardless of the number of people present and as the dance floor filled up he gradually wiped them up into something of a frenzy. At one point I noted that groups of mainly Italian ravers, sporting football shirts, began to engage in some chants. My friend responded to this by cutting the music with the faders in rhythm with the chants coming from below on the dance floor. In response a cheer went up from these enthusiastic football fan ravers.

After a couple of hours the dance floor was heaving and eventually 'Very Famous DJ' appeared. He baredly acknowledged my friend or the fact that his warm up set had created a lively atmosphere on the dance floor, on which he would be able to build his set. With no comment of thanks he simply pushed my friends CD's to one side, unplugged his headphones tossing them aside and proceeded to line up one of his own tracks to take over. I was appalled by such obvious lack of gratitude. How is it possible for people to arrive at such a apparently elevated state that they have no appreciation for those who surround and support them.



Some years ago I attended a lecture on Buddhism. Much of it had seemed rather theoretical until the speaker came to what was his main point. He then stated very firmly that, "If we experience gratitude it will open up a realm of your life that previously you didn't know existed."
I was intrigued and excited. A new realm of my life and one that I was previously were unaware of? The phrase was immediately etched on my mind. At first I began to test this principle with simple daily activities and discovered that gratitude can transform a simple meal of cheap wine and cheese with friends into a banquet fit for a king. By contrast I realised that even the finest champaign and caviare will loose their taste if gratitude is not brought into play. Some time later I was reading about the debauchery that typified elements of the Roman empire.

Apparently at some of the enormous banquets bowls, known as vomitariums were positioned round the dining area so that when people could eat no more they could make themselves sick so that the consumption could be continued. This seemed to typify for me the dangers of a society in which quantity was valued over quality or in which appreciation was discarded to be replaced by simple gluttony. Over subsequent years I tried to apply this principle of gratitude to my own life and amazing to say I found it to be absolutely true. Gradually my sense of gratitude became second nature to the point that I genuinely felt that I wanted to express appreciation and offer respect to many of the people around me who we frequently take for granted. We might for example complain periodically about the lateness of our postal delivery but how often do we express appreciation that on most days our post is delivered often before we get out of bed. From the postman's point of view I suspect that they frequently receive complaints of one sort or another but how often does anyone thank them for their consistent efforts on our behalf. Obviously not very often judging by the way in which my postman seemed to be genuinely delighted when I thanked him one day for all his efforts.

Little by little it felt as though elements of my life have been illuminated through gratitude so that it truly felt as though I new realm of my life was being revealed. Some years later I found myself playing a DJ residency in a bar. Each day as I played my favourite tunes for the punters I noticed how hard many of the waiters and waitresses toiled and it occurred to me that their already difficult job could be made even more so if they didn't enjoy the music I was playing. Chatting to one of the waitresses one day I remarked that I was trying very hard each day to try and find new tracks or to rediscover ones I rarely played so that it would make it more interesting for her and her colleagues and so that they wouldn't become bored with my sets. Her response shocked me. She said, "None of the other DJ's even care what we think!" How could that be? How could DJ's reach such a state of ingratitude that they should think the serving staff in a bar or disco were not worthy of their consideration?



Which brings me back to the ingratitude that 'Very Famous DJ" expressed towards my friend, 'Reasonably Famous DJ'. Once my friend had been summarily dismissed we went to sit in a VIP area which overlooked the DJ booth and the dance floor. At one point my friend burst into laughter and I asked his what he was laughing at. He explained that he had played for this group of revellers before and witnessed that they freuquently began chanting football slogans which was why he had decided to play with them cutting the music to the rhythm of their chants. "Very Famous DJ' on the other hand had not recognised this and, on hearing the chanting mistakenly thought they were chanting praise to him and was waving his hands in a benevolent god like manner in appreciation of their praise. As my friend noted, "They really don't give a shit about 'Very Famous DJ' they are just having fun shouting stuff at their football rivals on the dance floor.