Present Tense

What is ‘thankful’?

Thankful.  What does that mean exactly?

I think that thankfulness comes in various degrees and layers;  thankful for really great things, like new babies or new jobs or a clean bill of health.  And then there is the secondary thankfulness where we’re glad that things aren’t worse or that we’re making progress in a difficult situation.

I think that maybe that’s what separates people who are happy from those who can’t quite settle into their lives.  Most of the people I know who have as their mantra “it could be worse”, mean it.  But, some of us  get stuck; we dwell on the inevitable and universal imperfections, allowing it to corrode our lives and rust away the girders of the bridge to peace and happiness.

We all want things to work out perfectly; for our lives to be well-oiled machines featuring lots of rainbows and unicorns.  Unfortunately, we sometimes don’t recognize the rainbows and unicorns when we have them.  We think “it could always be better; this isn’t my perfect vision”.

Which is where thankfulness comes in.  Every day.  Find something, even in the midst of irritation, tragedy and yes, even unbearable pain, that you can say your gratefuls for.  I think it will make us happier.  I know it will make us happier and at the very least, it will make us less prickly.

My husband and I have both been mourning the loss of our dog, Chili.  This past weekend, we saw my brother’s dog, who is 14 and starting to lose her quality of life.  Bladder issues, she doesn’t see well, no appetite.  I told my husband  “I’m grateful that Chili won’t have to go through this kind of long-term deterioration”.

It doesn’t make it hurt less, but it’s truth.  She will be spared that kind of suffering.  Do I wish she were still alive?  Every single minute of every day. But, if we dig, we can always find some little nugget and say a thank you to the universe.  Baby steps.  Silver linings.

Some people are born with this ability; the clear-eyed view that life is never perfect, but it will toss us little crumbs of light if we’re open and clear.  Some have to remind themselves to look under or beyond the dark cloud that can obscure the light.  Some just choose to live in the dark.

Life is hard and disappointing and challenging and painful, so have another piece of apple pie ala mode and remember that it could be worse.

The last piece of pie could be mincemeat.  That would truly be a tragedy.

December 1, 2013 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Very thoughtful piece,,, loved it!!!

    Comment by Marsha | December 1, 2013 | Reply

  2. Amen and amen!

    Comment by shellybelly12 | December 1, 2013 | Reply

  3. So true & well said!

    Comment by Karen | December 1, 2013 | Reply

  4. I have a gratitude jar that I write something on every morning and put it in there. Some days it is easier than others, but it always makes me really think about things. Helps tremendously. Good article.

    Comment by Peggy | December 1, 2013 | Reply

  5. So true! Sometimes when we are standing in the shadows we fail to realize that shadows require light. We need to adjust our position and place ourselves in the light! Thanks for another great post.

    Comment by Mary | December 1, 2013 | Reply

  6. I was so sorry to hear about Chili a few weeks back. I am no stranger to grief myself. Almost four years ago, my husband and I lost our first-born son, Beau, to an umbilical cord compression just days before my due date. He was stillborn. My heart was so broken I thought I was going to literally die from sadness. But being thankful helped us through those very dark early days of grief. At first, we were so thankful for the kindness of the doctors and nurses. Then we were so grateful for our friends, family, and neighbors as they brought us food, books, plants, etc, and being present and supportive in our loss. The trail of thankfulness goes on and on. I don’t believe in cliches like “everything happens for a reason” – sometimes, things are just downright shitty and unfair. But, like you said, if we can find a nugget of thankfulness and hold on to that, we can somehow keep breathing and keep living. Thank you for this post.

    Comment by minnow | December 2, 2013 | Reply

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