2017 Year End Gratitude
People I trust have told me that practicing gratitude leads to feeling gratitude.
Sure, I think, but some years (or days) make it easier than others to find the silver lining.
2017 has been brutal… still…. still…
Some years ago a young man had come to an impasse. He realized he had a choice: either stop using certain substances or die. He stopped using the substances, but then found himself living in an unheated attic in a cold city, with only a sleeping bag and a battery-operated lamp for company. He worked at a job he hated, which barely paid enough for the rent. Food was a luxury. He grew angry, did this young man, and resentful, and a friend was worried about him.
His friend said to him, “I suggest you practice gratitude.”
“You’re an idiot,” said the young man. “Didn’t you hear me talk about the unheated room, and no food, and a job I hate and the loneliness and all the rest? I’m not feeling much gratitude.”
His friend said, “I didn’t suggest you be grateful, I suggested you practice gratitude.”
So the young man went home to his attic room. It was so cold he could see his breath. He got into his sleeping bag and turned his face toward the bluish tinge of the lamp. “I don’t even know what or who I’m saying this to,” he said,”But thank you for this sleeping bag. I’d be really cold without it. And thanks for the light. Without it, well, it would be really dark.”
It wasn’t much. But it was so much. And exactly enough. The young man told me after that, everything changed for the better, little by little, day by day…tiny bits of gratitude piling up like feathers.
Although it’s not easy or obvious… gratitude is kind of magick. So at the end of this year, which has been difficult and depressing for so many, let us count our blessings… one for every month. I’ll start… I’m grateful…
- I’ve survived it (meaning in the obvious way, but also the political horrors), and I send blessings to those who haven’t. (I grieve as well, but that’s a different essay.)
- to be older. It’s everything I hoped it would be. See this Grace Paley poem.
- that even though one publisher dumped me, another is taking a chance on me. Thank you to Wolsak and Wynn and to Paul Vermeersch and Noelle Allen, and my agent, David Forrer.
- for those who taught me I still have a couple of blind spots I can work on.
- for the clear messages from Spirit I’ve received. Undeniable. Miraculous. Like silk ribbons hanging from the sacred tree in my garden.
- for the 139 books I read this year… So many were SO great.
- for the statue of St. Fiacre (patron saint of, among other things, gardens) that My Best Beloved gave me for my birthday. He, along with the statue of St. Francis, is my pal.
- for my kitchen, and the love I have for cooking and putting all the magick of love into my meals.
- for the friends, new and old, who share my table and their stories and their kindness, and for those friends, new and old, with whom I’ve shared chat and support this year.
- for all the conveniences… plumbing and heat and air conditioning and light and garbage pick up… So many have had to survive without them.
- of course, for those who share my home — Ron and Bailey and a few ghosts. The fact I mention them now only proves this list isn’t in order of importance.
- for the light, of sun and moon, coming through the winter-bare trees in the back garden, that garden where the foxes have their den, and the deer wander and the rabbits have their burrows and all the other creatures — the mice, the groundhogs, the crows, the raccoons, the opossums, the squirrels, the hawks, the wrens… all my friends-and-relations come to prove to me I am part of something so much larger than my imagining.
So there, that’s mine for now. I would love, LOVE to hear yours. Let’s send up a chorus of gratitude and let the chorus become a wave, washing the world clean of pain and bitterness.
Here’s to 2018. Blessings.. Blessings…
1) For growing older having had what should have been a terminal cancer 42 years ago.
2) For although having a serious cervical neck injury with whiplash resulting from a car accident 100% the other drivers fault, it could have been much worse an injury.
3) For the supportive writing group member’s encouragement over two years, am now confident enough to read fiction short stories instead of the more clinical essays of non-fiction.
4) For the technology of my tiny Nikon camera and the joy going out to do photography.
5) For all the modern conveniences in my life and the roof over my head, a warm home and a fridge which always contains food.
6) For my many friends who live at a distance, yet keep in contact over many years now by phone, email and social media.
7) For the God in my life.
Way to go, Wendy… on five more…. 😉 you can do it!
8) Having vision in order to enjoy the books I’ve read this year.
9) Living in a community of diversity where many multi-cultural events are held and well attended by everyone.
10) When the occasional squirrel visits my apartment balcony, it’s a delight to watch their antics.
11) For the sometimes silent ‘wishes and dreams,’ which over my lifetime has seen many come true.
12) For the believe that there is always hope.
PS – Didn’t realize the listing was for 12. But happy to add the other 5. Smiles.
YES, YES, YES! Love you, Deborah.
1. For new and old friends, including you, Lauren. There is something comforting about having known someone for many decades, who has memories of my home, family and more.
2. For your support after my sister’s death earlier this year.
3. For surviving a terrible car accident earlier this year with no long-term problems.
4. For my children and my granddaughters, who brighten my life and bring warmth to my heart.
5. For a warm home, with running water and electricity… this bitter cold weather makes that more pronounced and brings thoughts of homeless folks to mind.
6. For a thriving business and wonderful clients.
7. For my wonderful relatives in beautiful Nova Scotia.
8. For the ability to power walk and run.
9. For my physical and mental health.
10. For sharing organized runs with my older granddaughter (and looking forward to when the wee one is older).
11. For my romantic partner – he is always there for me.
12. For the opportunities to develop and grow each year and hopefully pass on some wisdom, as other pass theirs on to me.
I am so grateful to still have my Mom as she approaches her 94th year. She has become so tender and fragile, like a precious glass ornament but still filled with life and hopes and dreams.
Something to be grateful for, indeed, Julie!
I will definitely make this list for myself, but I just want to say — I love you Lauren B. Davis! I’m one of the #9 friends, whom you selflessly supported this year 🙂 I’m grateful for the gift of your light.
You are so kind, Maia, and a joy in my life!
1. For the opportunity and privilege of caring for my elderly parents.
2. For visits with dear Nova Scotia friends after a long time away.
3. For the support and guidance of my agent, my editor, and the publisher of my first novel.
4. For my father’s post-stroke recovery and resilience.
5. For the richness our cat brought to our lives for nearly 18 years.
6. For the support and encouragement of lifelong friends.
7. For the warm and welcoming literary community in Canada.
8. For readers who were touched by This Side of Sad and who made an effort to tell me so.
9. For another year of joyous living with the love of my life.
10. For a continuing curiosity and an emerging confidence.
11. For mindfulness and its impact on my well being.
12. For now.
1. For my wonderful husband who has been my cheerleader this year.
2. For the writing community online, at the RNA, writing friends abroad and my local ‘diamonds’.
3. For the opportunity against staggering odds to publish my debut novel.
4. For all the lovely people who have given me five star reviews.
5. For my good fortune to have a beautiful house and garden in a friendly community.
6. For the recent addition of a pro-active, humane registrar in Rheumatology at our hospital.
7. For the smile on my face when I write.
8. For the gift of technology which allows me to speak to my Aussie family face to face.
9. For all the little joyful nuggets of history, story, truth and wisdom that pop up all the time.
10. For the deep pleasure of a good book.
11. For my parents still living beyond 80 and the example of living young from my mum.
12. For not needing to stop and think for a minute while writing this list.
Fantastic, Terri! And such a great book.
Thanks for this, Lauren. The Grace Paley poem is wry look at ageing and the loss of time. Ever since high school, I’ve loved a Dylan Thomas poem, “Fern Hill,” on the same subject but with a darker, mournful mood (even with the joyful descriptions of childhood exuberance). I didn’t know what “Fern Hill” meant was I 18, but, oh, do I ever understand now!
Astonishing that Thomas wrote it when he was relatively young, don’t you think? I believe he wrote it in his late 20s.
Here’s a URL to “Fern Hill” — http://www.famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/dylan_thomas/poems/11396
Oh, thank you! I love that poem.