So Mary asked me to write a guest blog. While I’m still not totally sure what that is, or that I can live up to the standard of a typical “Life in the Dport” post, here goes.
Like many others recently, I’ve been reflecting on gratitude and what it means in my life. While it’s easy to rattle off a top ten list that can look much like I just pulled it from Pinterest, I wanted to get a little deeper.
- I’m thankful that I won the lottery. Not Powerball, mind you, (there’s always next year) but the social lottery. I was born a man, into a white middle class American family. Think about that for a minute, really let that sink in. Though I did nothing, I already had more of a chance to succeed in life because of those three things. White. Middle Class. Male. I never had to walk into a job interview and be immediately dismissed because I didn’t “look the part.” I’ve never had to worry about having the neighbors call the cops or being stopped by the police because I was in a new neighborhood or worse yet, committed the cardinal sin of running. I didn’t even earn my citizenship; it was bestowed on me simply…because.
- I have clean water to drink and it’s only a few steps away. My mother-in-law had to fetch water from the creek, and that was after World War II. I also have incredibly easy access to food. So easy that I consumed more today than some kids may in a week.
- I have a job. Because I live in a 1st world country, this implies many things. I don’t have to spend all day looking for food for myself and my family. Our society has advanced to a point that we have time for art, sports, hanging out and taking naps. I have disposable income and time to enjoy those things. Thanks to all the folks who sacrificed and fought the system, not only do I have a job, I earn at least a minimum wage and am compensated for all my hours worked.
- I’m thankful for all of the bad crap that has happened to me. This one is a little hard to swallow. Everything that has happened in my life has shaped me. Everything, not just what I choose to view as the good stuff. In fact, sometimes it’s really only the meaning we assign to something that makes it “good” or “bad.” For several years I was part of a church that had some fairly toxic practices. When I left, I was bitter and had a hard time dealing with it. I felt like it was one of the worst things that ever happened to me, a waste of several years of my life. But, I also met an amazing woman and convinced her to marry me. This church also helped shape my worldview and view on spirituality (sometimes you need to see how subtle control and intolerance can be close up to really open your eyes). So was this the best thing or the worst thing that ever happened to me? It can’t be both. In reality it’s neither…the situation was the situation. The only meaning it has is what I give it, just like all of the other “bad” crap that has happened. I am thankful I do not have to allow it power over me.
- I am thankful for the relationships I have had in my life. They have all helped make me who I am: my work ethic, my love of books and music, my tolerance and loyalty. Some of them I have known all my life, some for only one conversation but regardless, all have changed me and I am forever grateful.
- As my parting gratitude, I’m also thankful for my dog Spooner; if only I could be half the person he believes me to be.