It seems that there is a lot of terrible awful stuff going on in the world, and there really is. Like, unbelievable, sob in the corner while clasping your blankie terrible stuff. Racism, dirty politics, religion used for evil, war, starvation, rape, torture, GUNS GUNS GUNS* just to name a few. Things that you could never ever imagine happening on this planet with other humans or animals. The stuff that the worst horror films don't even come close to showing. Things that we would tear our hearts out and bleed all our blood to change. To make a difference. So we do what we can however we can and we try to make a drop in a bucket.
And yet, and yet, there is good. There is so much good too. We have to fill ourselves up in order to be of use to others. With so much suffering there is this notion that we shouldn't find joy. That we should deny ourselves goodness when so many are suffering. I'm here to tell you to grab it where you can. GRAB IT. Find that gratitude. So where do we look and how do we find it? How can we possibly find any good in the midst of such terrible suffering and injustice in this gd world that is seemingly out of control and falling apart?
There is a gentleman I see each morning as I walk downtown to my office who leans gently on his cane while holding out a cup, who greets folks with a smile and a nod full of wisdom and a good morning. He doesn't intrude, so most walk right past him, head down, geared up for the day. But he isn't hateful or spiteful or bitter.
He and I started seeing each other a couple years ago because of his eyes. HIS EYES. I stop and talk with him and look him in the eyes and ask, "What do you need today?" And sometimes he says, "Aw I don't need anything. I'm alright." Other times he seems down and says, "I miss my family." I say, "What can I do to help?" He says, "You do it by stopping and talking to me every day." I say, "Well you think about what you want for Christmas and if there is any way I can make it happen, I will."
Most days he just wants a cup of coffee. And really, that's mostly what I really want most days too. I remember what it was like. To have to ask for your most base needs to be met. It's not my place to judge what his life may be. It is not my job to fix him. It is simply my place to meet him where he is today and try to be of service with kindness. As others were to me. Karma.
In the spirit of being grateful for the most simple pleasures, I share some of my gratitude list for today. On finding hope and joy and goodness in the midst of this terrible world, in no particular order:
- Sobriety. Recovery. Hope upon waking instead of doom.
- Finding a pine cone in a pocket when I go to do laundry. And a rock. And a leaf. And a rubber band. And maybe a sliver of cheese. And a rotten orange piece. A washer and dryer that work really well in our home.
- Our home. Our warm, cozy, dry and well stocked home.
- My husband. My incredibly kind, understanding, smart, creative, patient, funny, hard working, diligent, handsome husband. And how much they adore their daddy and oh how he adores them.
- The snow as I look out the door in the morning to decide what coat to wear. Because I have a few. Warm coats, gloves, hats and boots.
- I love the snow. I love the winter. But that's because I'm fully prepared and outfitted. I know for many, Winter is a time of sadness and fear of the cold and the sickness. Every time I'm thankful for snow and cold, I simultaneously send out a HELP THOSE WHO CANNOT HELP THEMSELVES prayer to the universe.
- Writing. Pouring my guts out in words and having people read and share them. Hearing people say ME TOO in response to my words. My people on Facebook. I LOVE YOU.
- The sound of one kid padding over to the other kid's bed upon waking and crawling in to cuddle for a bit while hearing the little conversation. So intimate. So delicately precious. I never tire of these moments.
- The sound of their very distinct voices. Hers high and sing songy and his deep and full of husk.
- Christmas trees and decorations.
- Our Nikki and kid art.
- Singing Jingle Bells.
- Playing waiter and pizza guy.
- Family and friends in abundance. Not in quantity, but in quality. Near and far. My recovering family. Even when we don't see each other often or even speak, just know we are out there in the world doing the deal, filling it with love, it's enough. Those missing. Those hurting.
- The food trucks lined up on the street across from my work.
- All the ridiculously funny, clever stuff they say.
- Books. Libraries.
- Caillou and Daniel Tiger and Umizoomi and Paw Patrol and Dora, yes Dora. And Sophia and Jake and Sesame Street. Curious George and Disney movies. We watch a lot of tv in our house. I make no apologies.
- Being able to roar when needed and also knowing when to whisper.
- How he rubs her back when she's upset.
- How she brings him his Dida when he is sad.
- How they bite or hit each other on occasion but then start crying in solidarity as they make up.
- Getting down on the ground and having them play on me. Around me. Smelling their smell. Feeling the weight of their very different little bodies and the strength they already possess.
- Their jokes and their laughter. Their laughter should be at the top of this list every day.
- Glasses and contacts that work correctly. Good vision. Literally and figuratively.
- Control top black tights.
- The viewing of holiday movies together year after year and knowing which parts are going to crack each other up or make each other cry.
- My ability to recognize when I've been an asshole and apologize for it. Even if it takes a little while to swallow my pride.
- My warm, clean, dry, fully stocked office where I have part time lived for so many years.
- A feeling of accomplishment when I walk out the door after a day of hard work.
- A day off.
- A day of work.
- Being paid to do a job and doing that job to the best of my ability.
- My schedule and time with my kids and at work. BALANCE.
- Yoga pants and scrunchies.
- High heels and lipstick.
- Our bed.
- The ipad that I use to watch my stories. Broadchurch and Being Mary Jane my current viewing pleasures. IN OUR BED.
- Bedpie. Or any other treat that satiates the desire on any given evening. How many luxuries can one girl have?
- Our basement.
- That damn freezer light and the automatic ice maker.
- Olives and dill pickles.
- Breathing freely without obstruction.
- Legs and backs and stomachs working as they are intended.
- The strength to walk through a day of turmoil and great joy.
- The gentle whispers goodnight and the exuberant good mornings. The I love yous. The I thankful for YOUs.
- The really shitty days.
- The days that make me feel as though anything is possible and the world might not be so bad afterall. For there is so much good.
- People who show up and give us what we need.
- Showing up for those who need us.
- People all around us who are kind and loving and give just a second of a kind word or smile or holding a door for a double stroller instead of rolling their eyes at a mom who is doing the best she can and doing the same for others when the opportunity arises. Karma. KARMA.
There are people all around us who just want love and to love but have no idea how to express that. If you have it in your life, cherish it. Don't blow it off and don't diminish or sabotage it.
Cling to the good. Don't let go. Whatever gives you hope and joy, do that. Find that. Take care of yourself. Misery is always refundable. Find gratitude even on the worst days, even in the most pain, for it's that gratitude that will carry you through.
Be the change you want to see in the world. It's all been said before and better than I could possibly say it. We are all responsible.
Find the hope and joy and goodness in the world. It's out there and there is really is quite a bit of it right in front of us if we look for it. It's how I stay sober. It's how I stay happy joyous and free.
The Plight of the Sensitive Being
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