The Gratitudes

Every morning I check in with myself, in writing. As part of that, I list three things for which I'm grateful, with caveats. I can't name coffee, and I can't name my husband generally, though specific incidents for which I'm grateful are fair game occasionally. I'm also thisclose to adding that I can't name sleep, because it's supposed to be about gratitude, not a referendum on how well I slept.

Springtime Sun

This exercise actually has two parts. First, I notice things I'm grateful for. Then I name them in writing of a morning. The whole thing may sound cheesy, but it's useful. It encourages me to look for positive things as the day goes along and then recall them the next morning.

Part of being alive in the world, I think, includes being grateful for Big Things. For living someplace that isn't being bombed. For generally living in a place, time, and context in which I'm not often (deliberately or innocently) misunderstood. For having opportunities: for education, a home, many forms of love, space, food, growth, participating in the publishing world in ways that are meaningful to me.

It's always great to remember the big, often invisible elements of our lives--the water in which we fishies swim. 

At the same time, the daily small gratitudes help me connect to those big ones. 

In the past few days, I've had several opportunities for conversations with other writers in different settings. One was a meeting of a dozen or so; one was a smaller group of three; another was a one-on-one. 

A few of the topics that came up in those few conversations: how the writing world has changed in the past twenty years, the joy of putting words on a page, dementia, whether projects in desk drawers are necessarily abandoned completely or merely temporarily, how to know whether an older project has juice, the need for fallow periods, the grief of finishing joyful projects of which we're proud, the optimal size of an outdoor pizza oven, how to connect with book clubs, the joy of listening to people talk about the invisible people you've known for years as they've come to know them too, the difference between a play and a skit, the energy shift in recasting something as fiction instead of nonfiction, how production quality can make or break a story in any genre, the process for learning about the next steps in a project, distinguishing what we can and can't control, how to make the most of the next season of life (actual season or X years), the energy radiating from the love amateurs embody, how to recapture momentum and self-confidence and how those are connected, when to persevere and when to change course.

Big gratitudes and little gratitudes. New perspectives and new statements of long-held perspectives.

I've enjoyed all the conversations, and I'm looking forward to more--big talk for someone for whom the isolation of lockdown life wasn't all that different from the chosen isolation of pre-lockdown life.

But truthfully, the ability to have these conversations, some with people I knew well pre-lockdown and some completely new, is one of my biggest gratitudes. Like the rest of the water this fish swims in, I want to remember to be grateful for it.