Raise your hand if you’d like to kick this past year in the teeth.
Sure, I’d like to know what Trump eats for breakfast, motives for the Las Vegas mass shooter, why so-and-so is getting a divorce, and other ugly truths hidden under digital sofa cushions online, but the more I step away, the more peace I find. Never before have I been so grateful for small things: pajama days, warm peanut butter cookies, yoga class with friends.
During this month of thanksgiving, these are the days to remember gratitude. Here are a few of mine:
My family and I survived nine tornadoes when we lived in Texas. Those who died weren’t so lucky.
Our town was spared, our lives left whole. The perspective we gained? Invaluable.
“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.”
-William Goldman, The Princess Bride
Texas didn’t let us down gently. After the tornadoes, we suffered baseball–sized–hail (with pictures to prove it), persistent chiggers, reoccurring kidney stones, panic disorders, depression, extended family strife, and a generalized lack-of-center. All of which irrevocably changed us, brought us closer to empathy and the knowledge that life is pain. But pain is only pain. You can eventually stare it down, survive it.
I have created space and time in my life to be. I have returned to self. At present, instead of choosing 101 Very Interesting Jobs & Projects, I‘ve whittled them down to a few.
“In all this chaos and misery I follow my own rhythm, I am thankful that I can still immerse myself in the things that matter to me. It is not that I am cutting myself off from all the suffering around me, nor is it a dulling of the senses. I take everything in and store it away, but I go my own way.”
- Home & Family.
We’ve lived in five different homes in the past two years. Multiple floor plans morph in my memory: 1915 Craftsman bungalow wood floors, baby blue carpet from our sprawling Dallas home, our current cottage kissing the mountains…red-tiled gingerbread with an abundant yard.
Every home we’ve lived in has had at least one thing we adore (I’m learning to ignore the warts and roll with it). And we’ve realized we love more deeply what we can no longer hold…our dear neighbors now states away, old schoolmates (we knew every face), our pergola with wild-blooming wisteria that for us was a backyard glade.
We are learning to call wherever we live: home.
“The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, to be surprised out of our propriety, to lose our sempiternal memory and to do something without knowing how or why; in short to draw a new circle. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. The way of life is wonderful. It is by abandonment.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
I know abandonment dearly. When we leave what we love and start again, draw a new circle, we find friends, family, home again. Not unchanged; more. Abandonment and abundance. We are proof of this, that the pain, the loss, and yes, the eventual gratitude, is all poetry.
“If it is all poetry, and not just one’s own accomplishment, that carries one from this green and mortal world – that lifts the latch and gives a glimpse into a greater paradise – then perhaps one has the sensibility: a gratitude apart from authorship, a fervor and desire beyond the margins of the self.”
For that I am striving.
What are you grateful for?