In some circles of people November is considered gratitude month. While I don’t enjoy reading people’s lists of shit they are grateful for, I can’t help but to also be inspired to think of the things I am thankful for.
Gratitude is such a weird word in the first place. Webster’s dictionary defines gratitude as, “a feeling of appreciation or thanks.” This is just an emotional response to something nice, but I can take granted the nice things in my life in a heartbeat and lose the gifts I have received in the first place.
I can spend long periods of time concentrating on what I don’t have and what I’ve lost instead of focused on what I have and being content with it. It is easier in this society to be lost in the material statuses.
There is that saying be grateful for the other three tires when one of your tires goes flat, but the whole car can’t be used until you change the one tire.
I’ve learned from watching all of you that gratitude is in knowing what can be lost or being in a place where the things that some people are grateful for are unattainable. Because of my life’s experience, I become grateful for the very simple things.
Here is my list of things I’m grateful for:
Especially since I get to hear what other people’s family life is like, I can’t help but be totally grateful for the family I have. Because I’m adopted, I get to say I’m grateful for being picked by the family that picked me. They have stuck with me through thick and thin, and loved me unconditionally. Some families don’t love each other unconditionally, but mine has loved me as I am. They have helped me tremendously, they saved my life when the last thing I wanted to do was live, they encouraged me when I doubted myself, and they appreciate me for who I’ve become. They didn’t raise me religiously, violently, nor did they give up on me. I owe the small amount of intelligence and wisdom to them.
I need to show gratitude by calling more often and hanging out more. Sometimes I get too wrapped up in my life and doing the little things like calling or coming over for dinner seems like a daunting task, but that is just me being selfish.
It’s been near six months and I still am in shock that this woman is in my life. She continues to surprise me with honesty, care, affection and comfort. I get to be me around her. I have spent many a relationships hiding my less than wonderful personality traits and walking on eggshells for others, but with her I get to be me. I’ve never felt closer and more in love with a woman than I do with my girlfriend. I miss her when I’m not with her, I trust her, I’m as present as I can be when we’re together and I’m honest with her.
I need to show my gratitude by never ever taking her for granted. I must show her daily how much I care for her even when my depression tries to shut me down from the world around me. I must be a partner, but know when she needs someone else to help her.
This has always been an area where my gratitude stinks. I either feel I have no friends or I take all of them for granted. I should have learned my lesson for all the time dear friends of mine have moved, died or just left my life, but I continue to either think them to always be around or forget they exist. Some of my friends are long time friends so it is easy to feel like they are there for the long run. We’ve been through tragedies and celebrations by the dozen, so why not think they’ll be there again. Some of my friends are newer, so I haven’t trusted they’ll be by my side when life gets interesting.
I need to put more effort into nurturing my friendships. Some friendships are very important to me, so I need to make them know how much they mean to me. While I have always been loyal and committed, I sometimes don’t show my gratitude. I need to know that these people are my friends and to stop letting depression tell me that I’m alone and unique. Sometimes I just need to call my friends. Fuck, even a text would show something.
Holy fucking shit, I love books. I want to live in a library the size of Xanadu. Now that I don’t drink or do drugs, books are my drug of choice. They take me out of myself and let me live somewhere else. Sometimes a book will take me somewhere awful and experience something horrible, but then I put the book down and know I am safe. I don’t always have to be David Everett Fisher. I love smelling old books and feeling them in my hands, for interior design sake, books are better than pictures on the wall or houseplants and a book takes up a night better than Netflix can when I can’t sleep.
I need to keep reading books. I want to spend less time on the Internet and more time in books. I feel bad when I go a day without spending at least a little time reading.
Speaking of having time to read, I am grateful for the bus. Sometimes I look at cars with jealousy. Sometimes I think my life would have more time in my day if I drove a car, but all it would do is be expensive, selfish, a danger to my serenity and I wouldn’t take advantage of the extra time wisely anyway. I love the bus. I get to see a cross section of Portland that a lot of car people don’t see. While I’m not going to say Portland is diverse, it is much more diverse on a bus than in New Seasons or the mall. The best part is not concentrating on the road and reading, listening to music or staring out the window and seeing the world go by.
I’m not sure how I can show Trimet busses more gratitude than I do. I have paid back the money I stole from them for all the free rides I got away with, I pay every time I ride and I have my bus fare ready before I step on the bus. I’m not loud or smelly and I stand when other people need the seats.
Sometimes I forget that I love this city. Sometimes I concentrate on the shitty parts and the changes I’m less than excited about. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that I love this city when I live in it. I remember when I moved back from Idaho and how happy I was to see the skyline again and be among my people.
I need to stop bitching about how things were better before and be more accepting how things are now. The food culture is better, there is more to do now and there are interesting people who have moved here. My girlfriend moved here from somewhere else and loves this city. I forget sometimes that there were a lot of problems back in the day. Gangs, skinheads, not many good restaurants, less to do and not as much good coffee are just a few of the things that I don’t miss.
Here is something that I have a hard time staying grateful for. This is the program that saved my life and gave me a better life than I could ever imagine. I would not be the same person I am without it, if not dead, but yet I seem to seethe in anger and resentment at what AA has become. Sometimes I want to flip chairs and yell that this is not what we do here, motherfuckers! I go and judge and my mind closes up and misses the few good things left. I also have learned that you can’t create the fellowship you crave if no one else craves the same fellowship, so I have to accept the one that is exists.
I need to open my mind and accept people for who they are and the experience they have that got them where they are today. I need to stop living in the past and know that everything changes. I also need to know that my experience is just as valid and can help those that are still suffering. I need to remember what worked for me and not worry about how it is different for other people. If it works, it works.
I absolutely love dogs. I love dogs more than most people. They bring a light to my heart that few other things can. I love how much they play and wag their tails. There is nothing more therapeutic than a few minutes with a dog.
There is nothing I can do to up my gratitude for dogs. I think it is one of the few things I have acted the way I feel. I still choose to not have my own dog because I am not in an ideal place to take care of a dog the way a dog must be taken care of. It saddens me when other people get dogs and aren’t able to give them the love and attention a dog deserves. I really think that if there was a god, it would have been dogs that were created in its likeness and that people were just like all other animals, dogs’ servants.
I can’t forget coffee. There is nothing I love more than coffee. I sometimes slip into addict behavior when it comes to caffeine. Sometimes I drink too much too late in the day when I’m supposed to sleep and wake up early. Sometimes I spend too much money on it and then I have to hustle to get more coffee. It never is bad as smoking cigarettes, but I sometimes will go the extra mile to get a nice cup of coffee. I love everything from Yuban microwaved the next day in a paper cup to some single origin, shade grown, bird friendly, fair trade, organic, shat through a weasel cousin on an island, picked by blind virgins who have sewed genitalia shut and sell for hundreds of dollars an ounce.
I will give coffee more respect. You should to.
There are hundreds of other things I’m grateful for. I could keep listing these things, but then I would be boring you even more than I already am. I have things and stuff and I like these things and stuff. Some things I do a better job being grateful for than others, but I also try to remember to be grateful for everything I have.
I live an interesting life and I have been places, seen things that few other people have, but none of those things mean anything if I don’t take a moment to be thankful for it. So many people have influenced me in positive ways and some of those people I can’t remember their names or what they look like, but I am better for meeting them.
I’m glad I’m alive today, and I spent time wishing I were dead. I’m glad I am me today, and I spent time wishing I were someone else. I’m glad I have the people I have in my life today and I have spent time at funerals, hospitals and airports.
I am grateful for a lot, but ssshhh, I have a reputation to keep.