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…