We are, most of us, most of the time, pretty clear about the big, wonderful things in our lives. Family, friends, good health, blah, blah, blah…we are so sure of them that we stumble through most of our lives, unaware and ungrateful. Until something precious is lost, and we wish – to no avail – that we’d had the good sense to appreciate our good fortune…before it was gone.
I’ve been in that situation…wishing for a miracle, praying for another chance, promising that – if given the opportunity – I would never take such tremendous blessings for granted again. Every loss has been a gift, only in the fact that it has made me more aware. I know how lucky I am to have loving family, to have friends that care, to be sixty-five years old and, by god, still in pretty good health. I try to appreciate those things every day.
A bonus of taking time to be grateful is that I become more aware of the little things, too. I have to. Every day, I make note in my journal of something that has enriched my day. It would go against my creative principles to redundantly state, day-after-day, the same treasures, no matter how big, no matter how important, no matter how dear. So, I watch for little blessings.
Yesterday, for instance, I had a good conversation with my daughter, Jen. She sounded good! She has a new job, closer to home and with better pay than her last one. She has a new phone number. Which means she is finally, definitively cutting ties with that scoundrel who has been dragging her spirits down for far too long. So, that is several little blessings all wrapped up in one telephone call.
This morning, it snowed. Almost halfway through April. And not a nasty, wet springtime snow that just makes a mess of things; this was big, beautiful, fluffy snowflakes, coming down like I always hope they will on Christmas. Then, it stopped. And melted. And the temperature reached forty, at least. And as long as I stayed out of the wind, it felt like one of the best, fresh days of spring.
This evening, there is a banded woolly bear caterpillar walking across my kitchen floor. I don’t know how it got in…but it’s cold outside; I think he can stay.
Sitting here at my desk, my feet are warmed by a thick woven rug that was a gift from my friend, Linda. On my right, three photographs in frames: my Mom and Dad, shortly after they first met, smiling into the camera from the Beaver Island boat dock; my brothers and sisters and me, all nine of us together (three have since passed on); my two daughters, with big smiles. Draped over one of the frames is a sweetgrass braid, a gift from my friend, Vince, who died this spring. On my left, a glass of water in a thick, Mexico-made, coke bottle green glass. Beside it, red wine in a stemmed hand-blown wineglass with swirls of red, orange and bergundy, a gift from my daughter, Kate.
Straight ahead of me is the “Moment of Truth” intaglio print by David Bigelow. It depicts a pig, strapped into an elaborate set of wings about to step off the edge of a cliff. That print has stood guard over my desk for the last forty years, reminding me not to be afraid to challenge myself. A small, tinkly wind chime hangs to the side.
Tucked into the frame’s edge is a photo of my mother. Taken just a few months before her death, she’s leaning against a pillow on her floral sofa. The picture-taker caught her in the middle of blinking; her eyes are closed, but she has a big smile on her face. Of all the many wonderful things my mother taught me, one of the most valuable is to remember to be grateful.
Just two rooms away, the bathroom heater is humming. I’m about to take my wine, and a good book, and enjoy a hot bath. So, it seems that even in the most ordinary times, if I keep watch, my life is abounding in little blessings!