Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Special: The Grateful Life

I don’t know whether it was the 40 milligrams of citalopram I take every day, or just having gotten fatally fed up with being miserable most of the time, but I have finally learned in 2010 to live gratefully. I have joined the ranks of those who don’t dare if the glass is half full or half empty, but are grateful just to have a glass. It’s been months since I suffered the sort of aching-all-over depression that used to be my default mode. Certainly on several occasions boredom and that too-familiar feeling of futility have nudged me right up to the edge of the abyss, but I seem not to fall in anymore. I’ve finally begun to live the lyrics of the song of implacable hopefulness I wrote on Christmas night 10 years ago when my estrangement from my daughter felt like a knife through my heart.

Once I thought desolation was romantic and sort of cool. Suffering for one's art, and all of that. God, was I fool. Any day you can nearly die laughing or curl up and ache with despair. I choose the laughter. I accept life's dare.

I direct my feet nowadays to the street's sunny side. Often I stumble, Heaven knows. Always, though, I take pride in the fact that I've offered resistance where my demons once had a free ride. High tides float all boats. Misery's defied.

The water gets murky sometimes, but I can refuse to drown. Gazing into the mirror, I can stare my accuser down. You don't get all the days you've spent pouting refunded as you approach death. Between breath and suffocation, I choose breath.

In a year during which a one-time college roommate a few months younger than I died, I am grateful for my excellent health. I am grateful for the love of the extraordinary woman to whom I’m married. I am grateful for the affection of wonderful friends; they are few (my sunny new disposition hasn’t made me less reclusive), but fab.

I’m grateful for my beautiful home, with its view of the Hudson. The sunset Tuesday night was humblingly beautiful; it looked as though the sky were bleeding. I’m grateful that I have plenty to eat, and that my cooking has improved a bit. I'm grateful that the good folks at Central Hudson manage to keep the power on the vast majority of the time. I’m grateful for having rediscovered the work of Scott Spencer, whose writing is on a par with Tuesday night’s sunset.

A year ago, if you’d told me that this blog would have attracted only 17 followers (I somehow managed to sign on in the beginning as my own follower, to my considerable embarrassment), who only rarely comment, after nearly 300 entries, I’d have abandoned the whole idea and treated myself to an extended poutfest. But I’m grateful for those 17, and grateful for the pleasure the work gives me. I am abundantly blessed, and make no mistake.

To paraphrase the Louvin Brothers, I like the grateful life.

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