Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Gratitude, Day Five ...

Day 5 already? Well, that was fast.

1. I am grateful for electricity. This morning, I opened the curtains in my dining room and saw a small branch – or a large twig – on my power line. Then my brain directed my eyes upward – up, up, up – until I saw the place where a limb had cracked and fallen down. It's still attached to the tree, but for how long? So, that will need to be tended to, because if it lets go, it'll take out my power line. Which means that I am also grateful for my generator. But just in general, it's an amazing thing that I flip a switch and a light goes on. I flip a switch and the air conditioner starts to hum. I once saw a video about someone who started making "lights" out of plastic pop bottles filled with water, fitted in the roofs of homes in India. And by homes, I mean shacks. Not in a derogatory way but in a descriptive way. We enjoy an absurdly luxurious standard of living compared to much of the world. But a plastic bottle filled with water can become a skylight of sorts, a way to transmit light into a dark space, and the smiles on the faces of those who live there are unforgettable. My lastest loan for Kiva is to a group of women in India, as a matter of fact, who will buy (or who have bought) solar light kits that will enable them to weave at night. I love everything about this project: the women who want to work even more than they already do, the product that they're creating, the renewable aspect of the energy. I just noticed that I may be rambling a bit. On to 2 … .

2. I am grateful for rain. Pleasant amounts of rain, please. Not horrible storms, not flash floods. But gentle, even rain. I noticed yesterday that my lawn was looking rather parched. I had thought about cutting the grass, and then thought, "Why? So it can die more quickly because it's shorter?" But it rained a bit last night and everything looks relieved. Revived. We have done so much harm to this pale blue dot we call home. I don't blame the climate for being angry. I do what I can to appease it. I conserve energy for the most part. (Speaking of No. 1, above. I seem very keen to talk about energy today.) My house is not aglow with lots of lamps at night. I unplug things when I'm not using them. I pride myself on using less power than my neighbors. (The power company sends out energy reports.) I recycle more than I throw away. And I am grateful that more and more companies and countries are doing what they can to do what they can. It's not enough and it's already too late, but it's something.

3. I am grateful for you. I am so, so fortunate to know so many amazing people. Some are very present, others fade for a time but we come roaring back to life in an instant. I have cheerleaders and confidants and more shoulders than I hope to ever need. I hope you know that you do, too. Reciprocity is key. There is so much kindness and intelligence and creativity and love in the world. Thank you for reminding me of that every day. I'd send each of you a cookie right now if I could. And thank you again, Lynne, for inviting me to participate in this very important exercise. I shall continue. I may not share it every day, but I shall continue.

Day Four's post:

This morning is very sneezy. I am grateful for tissues.

But that isn't one of my three entries for the day.

1. I am grateful for Mondays. No, I am not being saracastic. I am grateful for Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays and Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays, too. Yesterday, I was watching "CBS Sunday Morning." (Note to any young'uns reading this: There is an age at which you will suddenly start watching "CBS Sunday Morning." It will not be a conscious decision. It is likely preprogrammed into all our brains by Les Moonves. It is a milestone in life. You cannot avoid it. Happily, though, it's more subtle than the first appearance of something in your mailbox from AARP.) And the Sunday profile was Lee Grant. Who steadfastly refused to admit her age, as she started lying about it early on. I am really irked by people who refuse to discuss their age or who think they're being clever when they say they're going to stay 39 forever. Dave, a very dear friend of mine, died very suddenly when he was 38. He never got to celebrate turning 39. Every day we're here is an amazing gift. Even if we spend it watching reruns of "The West Wing" and eating cold pizza with plasticized cheese. Not that I would know anything about that. My point is: Yay, Monday! Yay, a new week! (My weeks start on Mondays and end on Sundays.) Yay, opportunity! Yay!

2. I am grateful for this mild summer. I crossed my fingers before I wrote that, so I haven't jinxed anything. I am no fan of summer. As I mentioned to Mom on Saturday, "I don't really like the sun." I appreciate the sun and hey, let's all move toward solar power, but to be out in it, directly? I'll be looking for shade. Another friend named Dave once informed me that I had a Wayne Gretzky tan, which made us both laugh. I am indeed disinclined to ever tan if I can help it. And that summer, I was very much inclined to wear long skirts, so sun couldn't reach my skin if it tried. Anyhoo, I am very grateful that my windows have been open for so much of the summer. I am also grateful, by extension, for a lower utility bill each month.

3. I am grateful for creativity. Some people say they're not creative. I don't buy it. I believe we all are. In different ways. I have long known that whatever "success" I achieve in life will come from something I create, which is both very, very cool and somewhat daunting. But mostly very, very cool. I once had a dream about yet another friend named Dave (I had quite the roster of Daves in my life at one point) who handed me a little figurine of Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz." I looked at him and asked, "Is this to remind me that I always have everything I need, inside of me?" He smiled at me and I woke up. On a bulletin board in my office, I pinned a sentence I wrote some years ago. It reads: "Of all the things my creativity enables me to make, I am most proud of my ability to make a difference." We can all make a difference. Let's do. Monday is a fine day to begin.

Day Three's post:

This is a nice exercise, writing down things for which I'm grateful, in the morning. It sets a nice tone for the day.

1. I am grateful for kindness. Despite all the ugliness in the world – which is what leads the news – there is, proportionally, far more kindness. I don't have specific numbers to back up that assertion, but I have probability on my side. Last night, I caught up with shows on my DVR, among them a tribute to Don Rickles. (Who knew Brian Williams was so funny?) It was a lovely couple of hours of people saying lovely things about a man who's made his living insulting people, but insulting people in such a way that they covet an insult, because they know it's not rooted in malice but in humor which is a fine expression of love. Don was the last person at the event to speak. He stood up – and then sat back down again, because he's 88 years old – but then stood up to drive home his final wish, which was that everybody have health. I burst into tears. What an amazing wish for everyone. Because without it, nothing else much matters.

An aside: Robert DeNiro and David Letterman were sitting on either side of Don and helped him to stand for his final words to the crowd. You know you've lived a good life when you arrive at a place where DeNiro and Letterman happen to be the people sitting on either side of you and can help you stand up.

2. I am grateful for coffee. And hazelnut goo. As I sit here writing these, I'm thinking in a very macro way, as it makes sense to me that if I appreciate broad concepts, everything else fills in underneath those umbrellas, so, by definition, I appreciate all of those things, too. But years ago, when I was drinking far too much coffee in the morning because my employer at the time kept massive Styrofoam cups on hand (I did eventually buy a mug: Fiestaware, purple), I told a friend that I was thinking of cutting out coffee, cold turkey. He sounded forlorn when he said, "But we like something warm to drink in the morning." And we do. So now, I limit my consumption, but it is indeed a lovely beverage to sip as I wake up and greet the day.

3. I am grateful for my home. It is more shelter than I need, even though it is not a big house by big-house standards, but it has kept me safe in storms and warm in winter. (One of my favorite postcard moments of my life happened a few years ago: My cousins in New York sent scarves for the whole family for Christmas. [He bought the yarn, she knitted.] I love my scarf. It is thick and soft. And one wintry day, post-Christmas, I was sitting on the loveseat in my living room, in comfy clothes and fluffy socks, my scarf wrapped around my neck and shoulders, and I watched the snow fall and swirl outside.) It contains the trappings of my life and many, many memories. Here's to many more.

Today's tags are – you know what? I'm going to break the "rules" of this and tag no one but ask everyone to participate. Not overtly, necessarily. Writing is a good exercise, but so is pondering. So, everybody, please take a moment today to ponder and recognize things in your life for which you're grateful. It's a good habit. I recommend it, and I'm only on Day 3.

Day Two's post:

My coffee just kicked in. I know that because I said, out loud, "Oh, I have to do my gratitude thingee." So here we are.

1. Cliché though it may be, I am grateful for chocolate. It really does help. Yesterday, I was feeling out of sorts, anxious, not sure what to do with myself. And despite needing to run to the grocery store in general, I was able to open my cabinets and identify the makings of brownies. (Except for walnuts. I am out of walnuts.) And so, with very little effort and time, I baked a batch. Baking really is a form of alchemy. And the chocolate helped. In general, I'm avoiding wheat. But yesterday, it got greenlit.

2. Also cliché though it may be, I am grateful for wisdom. The older I get, the more I figure things out. They say youth is wasted on the young, but I wouldn't trade youth for wisdom. I like feeling more sure in my skin.

3. Another thing to write about sprang to mind yesterday, and as is the case these days (see: age, above) I didn't write it down and so I forgot it, but it was a good one, so I hope it comes back to mind so I can write about it on another day. But I am grateful for the ability to remember my dreams. I had some truly strange ones last night, part of which I relayed to my mom this morning on the phone, and I was happy to hear her laugh.

Day One's post:

Facebook is often full of fluffy crap. But every so often, an idea worth spreading spreads.

Such is the Gratitude Challenge.

Folks tag other folks to post things for which they are grateful, three things a day for five days. And posters also tag three people each day, to expand the mission, as it were.

Yesterday, my lovely friend Lynne tagged me. It was late in the evening. I had not slept well the night before and was almost falling asleep at my keyboard. And so I postponed posting until this morning. And then I thought I should share my gratitude with more than the couple hundred folks with whom I'm friends on Facebook.

So here we are. I'll add to this post over the coming days.

1. In a somewhat perverse way, I am grateful for Facebook. Though I bitch about it a lot, it has enabled me to reconnect with some dear friends from my past (they're even more dear now than they were then) and it has introduced me to some extraordinary folks whom I otherwise would not know. So thanks, Facebook. Now leave my timeline alone.

2. Waking up this morning. Truly. This summer is marked by health episodes for several people in my sphere. I know I certainly take for granted the ability to go about my life without pain or challenge. I really must take better care of myself to ensure wellness for as long as life is granted to me.

3. Peace. Despite all the discord in our country, I am profoundly aware that we enjoy a ridiculous amount of luxury and ease, even those of us who don't enjoy ridiculous amounts of overt luxury and ease. This morning, I am listening to cars on the street nearby, no doubt people heading to their jobs. And I am listening to birds. And my fingers clacking on the keyboard of my laptop which is magically connected to the entire world, without tether. Others in other parts of the world are waking up to very, very, very different sounds.


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