So Thanksgiving approaches, so it is again time to reflect on what we are thankful for. This list is going to skip over the standards – family, friends, a home and all that. If I (and anyone else for that matter) were not already thankful for those, I’d deserve a kick in the ass. And my grandmother probably would have delivered it by now. She might have kicked your ass too. But I digress.
Health is one of the norms, but people usually take this to mean, healthy, as in run around, play outside, healthy. But even if you are confined for life to a wheelchair, you health can still be strong; you can still exhibit vitality. You can be in the throes of Cancer, or an MS flare up or any number of things, and if you let it, those things can drown you – like a wild current, they can smash the life out of you – you have no control. But you do have control over how you react to these things. React well. I’m not looking for Pollyanna, though she’s fine. But fighters are just as good.
So this year, I am thankful for my vitality. Kick me again. Go ahead.
I love music. I can’t remember a time when my world didn’t have a soundtrack. When it’s not playing, it’s in my head. Music for mad, for sad, for glad, for silly, for fear and anything else. I know that I’m not alone here – almost everyone I know has their own personal soundtrack. It’s a nearly ubiquitous love. Music is a must in my world, and I am thankful for it.
Because I love music, I have to be, by extension, thankful for math. I hate it. Especially when I am compelled to dig out old algebra equations to figure out how this stupid mind reader game got things right every damn time. (NINE!) A bit obsessive? Yes. But math is one of the fundamental building blocks of my world, and I kind of like my world. I like the car that starts, the food I grow in accordance with established patterns of nature, the house that stays standing, the plane that brings my mother in law up from Florida, the computer that earns my paycheck, the paycheck itself. Nearly everything that I rely on began with math, so I am thankful for numbers and equations.
4. This Moment
It’s nothing special, this moment. I’m sitting at a computer, trying to ignore the dog who has all four legs crossed, she has to pee so badly. The little is having tubby time in the bathroom and I can hear him and Daddy splashing, making a mess I’ll clean up later. I have a bunch of calls I should be returning right now, as well. But I’m here, I’m warm and safe, and all of the things life has been hurling my way aren’t allowed in. At this very second, none of that stuff matters. And for that, I am thankful, because in the next moment my world, like anyone else’s, could shatter.
On a base level, crying is cathartic. Gets the stress out, which is always good.
But on a deeper level, crying means something has touched us, profoundly. Six months from now, that thing might strike us as absurd, stupid, even. But at the time, when we cry, we’re moved. And our shape changes, just a little bit. So we are built, in part, by our tears.
And the thing I am most grateful for, is crying at the loss of someone I love. Because that means I love them. The love doesn’t stop because they are gone, so the tears are an immortalization, of a sort. And I have cried those kinds of tears enough times in the past few years to count myself very lucky. It means I love many people, and there can never be too much of that.
This one may seem obvious to parents, but this is aimed specifically at those of you who don’t have kids. The ones of you who roll your eyes when we lock our kids into the airplane seat next to you. Who mutter at us in line at the grocery store, and sigh in disgust when the dinner roll goes flying across the restaurant. Okay, we probably shouldn’t have let that last one happen. But you know who you are. You call our children rug-rats, parasites and, if we’re real lucky, you call them dependents. These rug-rats? Someday soon, they will make your life easier. They’ll mow your lawns and clean your tables. Later they’ll prepare your taxes and defend you in court. And much later still, one of our children will save your life. Um, it probably won’t be mine, so be thankful that other people are having children – I know I am.
There is very little that sets us apart from other species like the complexity of our language. And language is one of the fundamental building blocks that allow us to function as a society. Some of it is basic – a commonality that gets us to meet in certain location at certain time, or to communicate in such a way that we can literally move mountains, one civic engineering project at a time. I’m also a big fan of being able to turn over that mathematically derived paycheck to a person and have them understand that it can be used in exchange for goods or services.
But part of it is more elemental – the feeling you get when someone expresses their love, a clarity in relationships that draws lines of understanding through which we all navigate, and a sense of validation, of belonging, when our place is affirmed by those that matter.
Language, like math, is one of the universal building blocks of my world, and I have a deep appreciation for it that I acknowledge daily.
Aside from the obvious boon of keeping us alive, breathing keeps us grounded. Nearly everyone has, at some point or another, been told to take a deep breath and calm down. If you’re not so pissed off that the mere suggestion gives you the urge to throat punch the speaker, it works. A few deep breaths and your brain begins to engage again and you regain control. To a person who routinely deals with full-fledged panic attacks, sometimes breathing is like a lifeline, a focal point to reel in a psyche that is spiraling out of control. And it’s not just about anger, or stress. For a lot of people, getting home from work, sitting down on the couch and kicking off shoes is accompanied by a big sigh, a cleansing of the work day. Breathing helps us shift gears, and being set on “screech” all day is exhausting.
Many people lack this, and that recognition makes me appreciate mine. Lots of bizarre and sometimes terrible things happen, daily. Being able to put those things into perspective makes life far more manageable that it would be if every reaction to a trail held an equal weight. Take my hair, for instance. I’ll not go into how it happened, but it is yellow. Not blonde. Yellow. Reeeeeally yellow. And did I cheerfully strangle my husband? No, because I put it into perspective. Sure, I look like a jaundiced troll doll and I get to go to the bank and explain how reliable I am like this, but in the grand scheme of things, does it matter? Nope. Neither does the driver that flipped me off this morning on my way to school, or the fact that I still can’t find the paperwork I need. But for some people, any one of these things could result in tears or rage or both.
But when these things are put into perspective, they don’t matter. Because I’ll be dying my hair tonight, I’ll never see that guy again and I’ll go beg for duplicate copies of the paperwork and shell out a few buck for their recreation. These things won’t bring down the world. And I’m thanksful that I know that.
Everybody wants more. More money, more time, more stuff, a bigger house, another car. I want 4 of the last 5, and don’t hit them all only because I bought a new car less than a week ago. But most of the time, regardless of how much more I might want, I don’t need it. And that is the case with a huge number of us who want more. But really? I have enough. I have more than a lot of people, and more than I should. Definitely enough. Enough to sleep well most nights. Enough to make the choice to send my little to a Montessori school, but not so much that we have a choice other than PB & J for those packed lunches he brings. Do we make stupid decisions sometimes that result in us needing more money than we have. Oh, yeah. Can we pack up and go on vacation? Not a chance. But we have enough.