I’m not going to be thankful for anything I have just because someone else doesn’t have it. If I can’t be thankful for something for my own sake then anything else is just less. Anything less is just perspective.
Every person’s pain is unique to them and doesn’t need to stand on trial in comparison to anyone else’s measurement of pain.
The only exception I make (and I admit that this is a colossal weakness and prejudice of mine that must be addressed) is that a rich person who loses one of many properties is hardly going to get my sympathy compared to a family losing their only home. It’s a failing of mine and I’m working on it daily.
My perspective was improved this summer. I no longer feel that the universe hates me. That’s not precise, I have no idea if the universe hates me or not, I simply no longer think it’s picking on me personally. Life is full of long stretches of suckitude, then the sun shines (or in my case the snow falls and the clouds stay low and dark) and you remember why it’s all worth the Freudian struggle.
I am thankful every single day that I was a suicidal teen because it has given me a unique perspective on this life I’m living and when I’m listening to myself the rules for happiness are breathtakingly simple.
I’m thankful every day that I had to parent my own mother because she gave me gifts of insight and hunger that I never would have received without having her own mess be mine. She grieves what might have been if she’d been medicated 40 years ago and it is healing and enough that she recognizes this now and is so very sad at what she put her kids through. I don’t know how to take that pain away from her.
I’ve spent most of my life wondering how I can take her pain, my dad’s pain, my father’s pain, my (many) brothers’ pain, and my sister’s pain away. It turns out I don’t have super powers.
I wish my mother didn’t have to go through so many years without psychiatric help too because I know things might have been different but on her birthday yesterday all I could think is that her lessons were my lessons too. I wasn’t able to be a child in my life but my mother gave me something I had to have in my life: Empathy, Compassion, Open mindedness, Love, Creativity. My mother is a wonderful bipolar woman who has come a million miles to find happiness in a sweet Portland neighborhood. I am what I was meant to be just as she is.
Family can bring out the best in us and the worst in us. We are elemental with the people we’ve spent most of our lives knowing. In any philosophical discussion my sister and I will disagree with each other. Starting with the fact that she hates philosophical discussions as much as I love them. Whatever I think, she’ll think something different. In spite of this, we’re really not all that different. In spite of this I am always happy to see her. Like she was part of my bone. Same bone, different cloth.
McMinnville was dusted with snow this past week. Temperatures dropped to the high teens and as always this acted like helium in my blood elevating my mood to post cloud status. There’s something about the cold that makes me want to laugh, to run, to jump, to shout a glorious “FUCK YOU!” to the world in complete cheer. Snow is my cloak. Snow is my face. Snow is my spirit. Snow is my blood.
It isn’t as though I want my pipes to freeze, it’s just that if they do I’m not going to hate the icy temperatures that made it happen. I’m not going to mourn and complain. I don’t want homeless people to freeze and I think about them. I do. It’s just that nothing can repress my joy in the cold. The snow. The rain. The black clouds. The storm winds. The biblical flooding. I love weather. I love it when it overpowers me, us, them, everyone. It’s the true power on earth and there’s nothing we can do to corrupt it, interrupt it, lobby it, smirch it, destroy it, or divert it. Weather happens.
I am thankful for weather.
I’d die if I had to live in San Diego because it has no weather.
I’m thankful to live near Portland. It relieves the pressure that builds up in me living in a community where the main focus is on having more babies and/or gluing oneself to one of a thousand churches while endorsing teen pregnancy, the cavalier destruction of earth, an erosion of civil liberties under the guise of preserving them, and of course, ridding the vines of Satan and his confusing minions. Portland is blissfully liberal. It’s covered in art both commissioned and street. It cares about shit.
I care about shit too.
My kid turned ten years old and for the first time ate something at the Thanksgiving table and said what he was thankful for. He was thankful for his family and his animals (Pippa, Penny, Chick, and the hens we had to find a home for).
We were also thankful for jobs, my dad’s health (!), the fact that we have not one single boring person in our family, and abundance.
We got a letter from the school saying they want to test Max for the gifted program. He has social issues but is very gifted his teacher said. The word “engineering” was spoken. Can this really top the fact that I somehow managed to turn out an animal loving avid reader who loves long division? My child cup is very very full.
Don’t worry, he did eat some home made corn bread for dinner, but not at the table. He doesn’t eat at tables well. It was a great concession on his part to eat a bar while we ate our own dinner.
I’m thinking a lot about the hungry people in my own county. I need to do something. I resent that people seem to only go on great food drives during the holidays. It’s irrational. There is never a time when giving food to people who don’t have it isn’t important. I just keep thinking – what about the rest of the year? It’ s not that I don’t care about the people in Africa who don’t have food, but I think before I expend a lot of energy feeling helpless and sad about that I should work harder for my own.
Last year was incredibly difficult financially. There were so many times when the bank was empty and we needed groceries. We always squeaked through. I live in a poor community. I definitely know what it’s like to be poor enough not to be able to afford laundry soap or laundry mats. I know what it’s like to subsist on white bread and government “cheese”.
That’s not what it was like for me last year. There is no time more poignant to give to people than when you have very little yourself. I felt that a year ago when we gathered up everything we could to donate to the animal shelter. Helping the local animals when we were struggling so much ourselves was deeply satisfying. Not because I could feel good about myself. It wasn’t a gloating self congratulatory experience.
To help others when you have little yourself is an exercise in compassion, sharing, care, and love. When you do it you feed yourself. You feed the part of you that knows how much others suffer and reach out anyway. You feed that part of you that believes in interrupting an act of rape even when you might get hurt yourself. You feed yourself. Giving when you have little to give is the most valuable act of self care you can participate in.
It isn’t about praise or self aggrandizement. It’s about being the person you need at your own worst moment.
I’m not interested in having the perspective that continents 5,000 miles away might bestow. I’m looking for my perspective locally. Within my community. Within myself.
You look where you need to. Look where it counts for you. Your treasury of perspective is going to look so much different than mine and mine can’t trump yours.
Life is life when it alters with alteration…
It can be toxic to hold one’s self up to Vonnegut and Faulkner.
That’s like comparing your pain to someone else’s.
Just for the record, I hate Faulkner, in case I haven’t said that five hundred times before.
I’ve been watching some shows on hulu lately. I was watching John Doe for a while but I finally had to stop because Dominic Purcell is an open-mouth actor with a breathy way of talking that makes me itch uncomfortably. The character is also a little too obsessed with himself and his past. I know, I’m cold as ice.
Then I found “Wire in the Blood” which I LOVE but Hulu only has season one and then it skips to season 6. Everything is changed in season 6 and the main character in season one is gone. There had been warmth and repore and interest between the two main characters that I loved and I found that when that was gone, so was my interest. A murder mystery is best when the people solving it have a personal life and something at stake.
I have to wonder why I like the truly gruesome murder mysteries best.
Only if they’re solved.
My grandfather used to call me a bleeding heart. I had the grace not to shout at him while he was living that he was a racist asshole. I don’t think he was right, though. I’m a lot harder than he thought.
He only liked me at all because I told him to fuck off and stop insulting me, my mother, and my brother. He never had any partiality for me before I said he could screw himself all he liked but he should stop screwing the people who actually cared about him.
Reminds me of the punk bully I became unwilling friends with because she was devoted to me after I invited her to beat me up because I was so tired of her threats.
Life is cyclical.
The subtext of my week has been: know thyself.
To thine own self be true.
Don’t alter yourself to fit the expectations of others.
Don’t doubt yourself and in doubting yourself act in a manner untrue to who you are.
Don’t let anyone obliterate who you are through criticism.
Every being has gifts.
Every being has room for improvement.
I’m thankful that I’ve always known who I am. I’m thankful that my life hasn’t been one long quest to know who I am and what I want.
I make a hell of a lot of mistakes and my road is pretty rough. Still, that’s just life for you.
That’s not the world coming to an end.
I remember reading the description of bathos and realizing that it was not a quality greatly revered and yet I seemed to embrace it with my style.
I have always known about my own contradictory nature. I refuse to hate it because it has its blessings.
I have no idea what my life is going to be like in six months, in a year, in two. I only know that I will be the same core person, just more evolved. I only know that I can trust myself to remain true to myself.
If I could wish one thing for everyone I care about, it’s that you know who you are too. It’s that no matter what life brings you will act as a recovered suicide and understand that a good cup of coffee (or three) in the morning is everything.
Life isn’t a complicated unknowable thing. You live it. You seek what you want. You win some you lose some. You will cry. You will ache. You will laugh. You will fall. You will recover. And then, when your time is up, you die.
The most important thing any person can develop is a healthy support group.
I adamantly disagree with the sentiment that “all you need is love”, yet I believe that feeling love for yourself and others is first aid to calamity.
Compassion for strangers, especially ones whose religious or philosophical beliefs confound or anger you, is powerful.
This is something I have to work on.
I love people, I hate people.
Here’s a gift of mine: I can find something positive to say about absolutely any human being no matter how evil or how angelic they are*. Hitler is the most universal evil the modern world can point to and I guarantee you I can find something good about him if I do my research.
What gifts do you have?
Thanksgiving can come in every color and flavor. Cultivate yours.
I’m thankful for:
The repeat button on music
The man crazy enough to love me even when I’m fat and bitter
My ten year old child, a true gift
My mental illness which gives me unique perspective
My iron stomach that prevents vomiting on a regular basis
Because I’d rather die than vomit
Bagpipes which are the mirror of man’s soul
Having food to cook and eat
The loyalty of friends
Sleep, when it comes
My mother, who taught me to think creatively and to let go
My father who taught me nothing but who I strangely love anyway, in my own way
My dad who paid the dentist and bought me groceries when my mom disappeared
The snow, because I am you in human form
The rain, because I breath you
My job, because without it we’d be on the streets
My job, because it gives me so much fodder for silent ridicule
Shelter, a blessing in any language
The Daily Show, to remind me what the world outside of McMinnville is like
Sleep, a rocky subject at the best of times, but when it’s good it’s life affirming
Education, no matter how you come by it
My grandfather for showing me the better side of himself, the nonracist poet who loved everything Italian, culture, olives, wine, literature, and food
Lipstick, cause I look way better when I have it on
Swear words without which there would be so much less emphasis
Cultural diversity, even when I don’t understand it
The public library
Health, that ephemeral desirable state of being
*Angelic people really piss me off so this isn’t an idle threat.