Tuesday, April 6, 2010
What's your other choice?
"All who joy would win must share it; happiness was born a twin."
How do you greet yourself in the morning? When you awake, are you inhabiting your skin with a welcome entity or something that causes you to think of exorcism? Any day that begins with even a pinch of self-rejection is going to be a particularly bumpy ride. Save bumpy for the chenille bedspread; what we want is smooth, kind, gracious. Gee, I sure am happy to see you.
If we are enemies to ourselves, how can we hope to be a friend to another? I have come through stretches of time - years would be my best guess - when, as soon as I opened my eyes, every character defect, shortcoming, each bit of unfinished business, regardless of its vintage, was being enumerated for me, like the Naughty side of Santa's ledger, by a voice so superior in its disapproval that I felt defeated before the covers were even thrown back. This is not living; this is not right.
My eventual release from this hell, one which I know is shared by many, came from (a) traditional talk therapy, (b) 12-step programs, their impressive record of wisdom and recovery and a power greater than myself and (c) beginning to keep a journal of only gratitude. No complaining, no self-pity, no diving into the story so that wounds could be kept fresh and oozing.
"Thank you," I would begin, "today I am grateful for..." and go on to list all that I could think of which was not a recitation of how the wheels were about to come off the wagon. I was thankful for everything that worked that day - automobile, plumbing, pencil leads that stayed sharp, meals prepared without mishap. It was easy to be grateful for my son, for my friends, for family members who allow me to sit close, metaphorically, rather than treating me like something better handled through third parties or with the use of rubber gloves and barbecue tongs.
As thankfulness becomes a state of mind and a state of being, we notice that another hundred blessings just got off the bus. They have their hands in the air, oooh, oooh, pick me. It reminds me of the lines for "Let's Make A Deal," taped at the studio where I was employed. The couple dressed as containers of french fries could have been on my show. Blessings are patient; waiting - time itself - hah! no matter. We will be here.
An invitation via Facebook from Giant Robot to their presentations at the coming LA Times Festival of Books drew a benevolent sigh when I read that David Horvath would be there. Horvath and Sun-Min Kim created the Ugly Dolls. They belong in the Perpetual section of my gratitude list for how seeing any one of them makes me smile. A green Abima and magenta Moxie reside with us. It was discovering them - and the mind-expanding "Giant Robot" magazine - that elbowed me to draw the creatures who became a line of rubber stamps for Stampington and Co. in 2008.
Today I am grateful that I didn't gobble my package of Peeps but savored them...three still remain. I am grateful that our supermarket strawberries were not only inexpensive, they were also ripe and sweet. I am grateful to hear my friends speak with unguarded affection about their children, their pets, their gardens. My list today contains newsletter recipients who sent favorable comments to the store for which I write. I laughed - perhaps disproportionately - when hearing of the new game, " Chuck Norris versus Werner Herzog," which film critic Roger Ebert is playing on Twitter, where it apparently began. If you've read earlier entries here, you know whose team I'm on.
Life is absurd. I am relieved and reassured whenever that awareness taps me on the shoulder or grabs me by the lapels. In the midst of grief, etc. What will make it onto your gratitude list today? Will you say Thank You for: The means to acquire new pens for a sketching fest? News of good health from someone dear? The wealth of useful facts and overflowing inspiration that creative bloggers all over the world deliver to our table? Lucinda Williams' "...pens that don't run out of ink and cool quiet and time to think..."?
It is said that all of life is a blessing; I know there were days when the extent of my gratitude was to say, "I'm still here." Today I give thanks that I have so much more which I recognize as gifts. I am grateful to computers and the internet, to Google and Blogger, and all who dreamed them into being. I am grateful for a forum in which I can share my joy, for people who may find something of themselves here, for Lord Byron's insightful words, for being here.