I’m tired of being told I should be thankful. Are you?
In less than four hours I am going to be among the first (masked) shoppers in line to pick up a wheat-colored settee from TJ Maxx Home Goods. That’s my only outing of the day. That time of day, there are five folks in the entire store, plus employees. That’s social distancing.
I’m happy that the person who put it on hold ten minutes before I called TJs to tell them I was on my way in to purchase it last Wednesday never showed up. Two minutes prior to closing, I rang in, the folks told me that the settee still sat by the door. Put my name on it, I said. They did.
Of course I’m grateful.
But it’s for a thing.
I’m tired of being told I should be grateful for X, whatever X might be, my house or my life or my friends or whatever the fuck. Of course I am. That others feel the need to shove this in my face this time of year has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the dog that’s barking.
Here’s where I’m going with this. You and I can be grateful for our homes, families, enough food. We can be grateful for the outcome of the election, friendly and kind neighbors, those who called to check in on us over the holidays, the fact that the lights are still on (for now) and that our hearts continue to beat.
That’s the easy part, frankly.
When do we have the wisdom to be grateful for life’s shitshows?
Two weeks ago I lost a beloved contact on Medium because of a stupid mistake on my part. I am still deeply saddened by that loss, and the vitriol that was hurled my way as a result of it. I am daily reminded of that loss, for this person’s name shows up a lot.
And I am grateful for that experience.
Yes. Damned right I am.
For if I am only grateful when things go well, I will never do true Goddess work.
The real work of gratitude is to be thankful for things that are difficult. In those events are the kernels of whatever wisdom might be mined, should we be thoughtful enough to explore the wreckage of what we wrought.
As painful as this loss is not only to my Medium experience, it isn’t as painful were I not to carefully pore over what I did to cause it. Buried beneath that mess is what I really need to learn.
That’s the real gift.
For example: if the piece I write tags someone, I need to not only be far more careful of the context in which I do the tagging but also how it could be construed by others. In this case, I wasn’t. The result was that the tag put my erstwhile friend in a bad light. Not only was that not my intention at all, it caused real hurt. Had I put the story on hold for a while and come back to it later, that likely wouldn’t have happened.
The result is that now I am far more careful, I check first, put stories on ice until I have had a chance to grow new eyes (usually a few hours later) and can double-check for potential potholes.
Because that mistake cost me dearly, you can be damned well assured that going forward I will be far more careful.
That’s priceless. Painful, but priceless.
Every year I watch football. Okay, okay, not this year, I listen. Still, I watch young men do amazing feats on the field, catch impossible balls, make impossible tackles, bring home the bacon in the end zone. All too often, I see them raise a finger skyward in thanks.
Sure you do. Any time you succeed, how easy is it to give thanks, when the entire stadium is on its feet just for you?
I have yet to see any one of those talented athletes do the same thing when they flub the tackle, miss the catch, or, while showboating backwards, do a face plant inches from the goal line, costing their team the championship.
That, for me anyway, is when our most heartfelt gratitude is due. For in the discomfort of our failure is when we most desperately need faith, the kind of faith that sustains us through those shit shows, when your entire fan base is calling for your head.
That’s when it’s time to be grateful.
Above all things, humility is our greatest teacher of goddessness. The ability to be great in the face of life’s greatest insults to our egos.
Humility comes to us from the Latin humus, or “earth.”
Hubris, which far too many of us suffer from these days as it arises from the basest of our egotistic endeavors, comes to us from the Greek, meaning Extreme egotism, arrogant overbearing pride.
Hubris seems to be the drink of choice for far too many of us. When I’ve suffered from it, invariably what follows is one hell of a fall.
Humility grounds us. Makes us part of our Mother. Reminds us of our humble beginnings, and the need to be passionately grateful for life. For what life can give us and teach us through pain. For pain, whether psychic, spiritual, physical or emotional, helps us see others as they are, not as we might want them to be.
Conversely, that same pain is the single greatest goddessness teacher for minding our manners, being thoughtful before being thoughtless, and keeping our feet solidly on Her ground when dealing with those we care about, as well as those for whom our words have meaning, as Medium peep Rebecca Stevens A. wrote yesterday.
Yesterday my brand new kitchen filled with the smells of prime rib. Once a year, maybe twice, I eat red meat. My body will not thank me today, but yesterday I pored over the oven instructions (last time I used an oven I was still in my forties). What came out a while later was so good I nearly cried.
Outside my dining room glass door, a huge flock of turkeys was gobbling up four big fat scoops of bird seed. One big girl, who has learned to trust me, hangs by the door and watches, waiting for me to hold out a big wooden scoop so that she can feast by herself without being pecked on by the others.
They were grateful. Around here there’s no hunting season, not in my hills.
Am I grateful for my stuff? Sure. Do I need to be reminded that others don’t have what I have? Hardly. My world travels underscore that for me all the time. Do I need someone to intone a prayer of thanksgiving so that I look at what’s around me with appreciation?
Kindly, go spit. I’m tired of it. For all of that is just stuff, stuff that will burn the next time a fire gets close enough (and almost did this past year). All that stuff can’t go with me wherever my soul flies on my last day. Stuff is just….well, stuff.
What does have meaning is what I have learned on this journey. What has taught me to see differently. Think more broadly. Be more aware of where I am likely to fail. And I will, plenty more times.
For that I am deeply, richly, forever….