Gratitude Isn't Optional
Give thanks for what you can, because you can.
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“No duty is more urgent than giving thanks.” - James Allen
Yesterday, as I sat at my desk thinking about what I would write for my second post of the week, I suddenly remembered that today was Thanksgiving.
I love Thanksgiving. We don’t have nearly enough consistent, predictable family traditions in our family, but our Thanksgivings and our Christmases always look pretty much the same. Amidst the chaos and the drama of every day life, which seem to grow more complicated every year, these traditions are anchors; lighthouses in the perpetual storm. They are about food, and feasting, and family. Over time, with the accumulation of many such feasts, the food means less, and the company of loved ones means more.
But we are in a weird place. We’re isolated. It’s just us and the kids. Nothing feels right.
Believe it or not, this actually is a post about gratitude, but I have to work my way there. The backstory matters. It always does.
My wife came to my office door last night a little after five and informed me, even though I was working on finishing up something I was doing for her, that she would like for me to wrap it up and come spend time with her and the kids. It’s hard, when you’re in survival mode, to think in such terms. I told her that I still had things that needed doing, but I didn’t push back too hard. It seems, these days, that I’m always here. Sitting in this chair, trying to figure out how to make the rebuild go faster. Trying to overcome the various obstacles in the path toward success. Sometimes, just procrastinating because the things that need doing are grindy and tedious and feels like work I should have already long-since been able to delegate to someone younger and with more energy for such entry-level tasks. Burning myself out again isn’t going to help.
It’s hard as hell to be 46 and starting over. It’s hard to be back at the place I once never thought I’d leave, wondering every day how we were going to pay the bills when the month turned over, trying to figure out if there was anything I could do to increase the odds that we could. There are times when I look back over the past few years and am almost paralyzed with shock when I realize everything I walked away from, every poor decision I made out of hurt and anger and fear, and all that we’ve lost because I couldn’t see past my own pain and desolation to recognize that I was, in essence, setting fire to everything I had worked so hard to attain. I emptied my stores — more money than I ever thought I’d have just a decade ago — searching for answers that wouldn’t come, and just trying to survive the dissociative, quasi-catatonic state that swept me off my feet like a rogue wave when my entire framework for understanding reality crumpled and imploded.