gratitude

I always think of what I want to write just before I fall asleep at night, but then by the time I wake up, POOF, it has vanished. I think this means I need to keep my laptop next to my bed, but doesn’t that make me a crazy person?

Anyway, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I just wanted to take a few minutes to list some things I’m thankful for.

1) Poetry – especially this one today, so appropriate for the holiday tomorrow:

thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings;and of the gay
great happening ilimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any – lifted from the no
of all nothing – human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

– e. e. cummings

2) Coffee – especially the kind that is iced and strong and delicious (preferably cold-brewed) or the kind that involves lots of steamed milk, which warms me on even the coldest days, with a hot fire that starts at the center of my belly and spreads out from there. Seattle has inadvertently made me into a coffee snob, and I swear that I am not a snob about anything, so I am vaguely horrified at this transformation, but that is another topic for another day.

3) My body – As I hinted at in my last post about the brain, going back to school for speech-language pathology has given me a newfound appreciation for the intricacy and delicate balance that exists within the human body. So many finely tuned processes and amazing connections and regulating activities all happening at once to keep us alive, awake, alert, and energetic. It is truly awe-inspiring to think about. And this body has given me two beautiful children. Sometimes, I look in the mirror, and all I see are the wrinkles, the flabby almost-second-chin neck area, my extra layer of padding all around my waist, and the butt, oh the butt, that just seems to expand and expand. But lately, I have been looking in the mirror and noticing the things that are incredible. My blue eyes and remembering how amazing it is to be able to see. My fingers and hands, and all the variety of things they can do and how easy they make my life. And so on.
There are more things, but I only had a few minutes, so this is what came out. I’ll leave you with another poem in honor of Thanksgiving, this day on which I give a huge shout of thank you up to the heavens, hoping that whoever is out there and responsible for all of this (is there anyone there? hello?) hears me. Here:
This is what life does. It lets you walk up to
the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a
stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have
your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman
down beside you at the counter who say, Last night,
the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder,
is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the
pond, where whole generations of biological
processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds
speak to you of the natural world: they whisper,
they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old
enough to appreciate the moment? Too old?
There is movement beneath the water, but it
may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.

And then life suggests that you remember the
years you ran around, the years you developed
a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon,
owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are
genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have
become. And then life lets you go home to think
about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.

Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one
who never had any conditions, the one who waited
you out. This is life’s way of letting you know that
you are lucky. (It won’t give you smart or brave,
so you’ll have to settle for lucky.) Because you
were born at a good time. Because you were able
to listen when people spoke to you. Because you
stopped when you should have and started again.

So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your
late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And
then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland,
while outside, the starfish drift through the channel,
with smiles on their starry faces as they head
out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.

– Eleanor Lerman
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