November 5th, 2007



Do you ever actually sit and count your blessings? I suppose because it's November now and getting closer to Thanksgiving, and also because we are reading Those Happy Golden Years in which Laura is now a schoolteacher boarding 12 miles from home in a horrible household and SHE is talking about how wonderful her home and family and life are in contrast, that I am thinking so frequently about my life and the things that are good in it.

Even if you don't believe in BLESSINGS, per se; the idea that someone, some higher being, some all-knowing, all-seeing power PERSONALLY TOOK THE TIME and conferred UPON YOU the things that are good in your life is kind of hard to swallow. Maybe it's all just random synapses. Maybe it's all just total co-inky-dink (which is how I've mentally pronounced coincidence since college when a girlfriend started it and it spread like wildfire. I can't remember where it came from. Do you do this? It's so twee, but I can't stop. No? It's just me? What a co-inky-dink! Har!)

I've done the typical things I'm thankful for posts every year about this time...I AM SO PREDICTABLE. Damn, that's an annoying thing to realize about oneself.

Mostly, if someone tells me to count my blessings, it just makes me want to slap them. Just as a surprise, you know (and because the look on their face would totally make me laugh) (you'd laugh too, if you were there watching) (well, once you got past the shock at the NERVE). I wouldn't ACTUALLY slap them, honestly. I say the stupid phrase myself sometimes and I don't leave myself out of the wanting to slap reflex, though I've never actually slapped myself either. Maybe I should! Maybe YOU should, just to get this post back on track. It seems to have veered severely. I mean I seem to have veered severely. It's hardly the post's fault.

November always gets me moony and blue, but that feeling seems to hover all over during this slow slide into the cold and dark. I keep the solstice in my sights like a light at the end of the tunnel. Only 2 months until it starts getting lighter, I think to myself as I'm driving into the pall of darkness that hangs over the landscape as early as 4 in the afternoon these days thanks to stupid winter time and general lack of daylight hours in the winter season that comes from living this far north to begin with. Tonight my mind snagged on the word pall. It's been overcast, so it seems particularly fitting. I think it's interesting that it's used so differently as a verb and as a noun. The verb form means 'to dwindle, weaken or fail' while the noun comes from the cloth used to cover a chalice or casket: a cloak or a mantle, originally; something that conceals or spreads a feeling of gloom.

When the sun DOES shine and it hits the falling, fallen leaves like a klieg light it's hard to remember that feeling of gloom that descends in the earlying evenings. When it's dark out and you can't even see the stars, can't wave to Orion, it's sometimes hard to remember the last time you saw the sun. Hard to remember that up above the cloud cover it's shining away, getting closer, working harder to warm us though we tilt from it.

When I think about my blessings they seem so ordinary: good health, wonderful family, loving and committed relationship, fulfilling work, kindred spirit friendships, warm and cozy house, the ability to buy and do the things we need and desire. When I think about the things I have, the life I live, the luck I keep, I always think "I'm grateful" as if I needed to be or were grateful TO someone or something. I'm just grateful that they ARE, these things that make my life worth living. Not so ordinary, after all, when I really come to think of it, when I really count my blessings and one by one pop them into my mind and roll them around to savor them.

Maybe it all comes down to appreciation. I don't have to be grateful for what I've got if I just appreciate it. Isn't that gratitude in its most basic form? If I notice. If I listen. If I recognize. If I consciously enjoy and revel in the ordinary and extraordinary marvels that surround me, and even if I just take the bad things in stride and work with and through them to the other side where the good things grow. If I give thanks.