Grateful for My Favorite Things

We’ve been in a rough patch. You. Me. Almost everyone. So it seems. (See here, here, and here for a few reminders from my perspective.) Over the past year and a half, I have often felt that the world is coming apart at the seams. Things are unstable and a cause for great distress. I imagine that even those who disagree with my politics still feel a similar sense of unease given the problems facing our world and the divisiveness of our politics.

What makes it even worse for me personally is that I’m a bit of a natural pessimist. But occasionally I am struck by just how fabulously perfect life can be. And it is glorious.

For instance. The local classical music station plays Mozart every morning at eight o’clock, which is precisely when we leave the house to take my son to school. Today we drove through the pouring rain to Mozart’s Divertimento No. 1 in E-flat, which was followed by his Contredanse in C major. The clarinets felt like an auditory match for the wet, gray weather, which was contrasted against the bright colors that still linger in the trees. When the music ended, my son declared, “I want more Mozart!” I assured him that more beautiful music would come on soon. “There are so many wonderful composers,” I assured him. And I was suddenly struck with clarity about just how lucky I am. I live in a world where there was a Mozart! And I get to casually listen to his music as I drive my Japanese-engineered car across the wet streets of Seattle.

And—at the risk of sounding like Maria von Trapp during a thunderstorm—I realized there’s so much more that I tend to take for granted. There is Netherlandish painting, and there are Gothic cathedrals. There are cats and bungalows and peonies and pine trees ornamented with pine cones. There are pots of soup on cold evenings, and fires, and the smell of freshly baked bread. Fluffy snowdrifts bedazzled with colorful, reflective ice crystals. I get to eat pasta and chocolate and cheese. There are sunrises and sunsets. Seashores. Fireflies. Lazy mornings in bed. Millions of books! I am mother to the world’s sweetest and most beautiful boy (fact). I get to listen to him laugh and watch him learn. He hugs me every day.

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I am also grateful for memory. I have so many memories. This will be my second Thanksgiving without my mother and my eleventh without my grandfather. But my memories of both of them are knife sharp. I can hear my grandfather’s booming laugh and see the twinkle in his eyes as he shares a naughty joke with me. I can see my mother’s smile and the distinctive slope of her shoulders. I can hear her voice.

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I always appreciate these things to some degree, but to consider the staggering amount of magnificent things that make up the experience of living is truly overwhelming. I surprise myself a bit (because, honest, I’m a pessimist), but I feel so fortunate to be on this earth witnessing and experiencing its many great gifts.

None of this makes me any less pissed off and worried about the many injustices and challenges facing our world. But in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m trying to let this feeling continue. To allow a sense of gratitude have as much space as my feelings of disquiet.

So far it feels great.

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