On Thanksgiving, and every day, I’m thankful for my life.
As I get older, I feel the preciousness of life and the fragility of it more and more and that makes me cling to it with a greater grip, but I know that’s not the way to live.
The way to live is with an open heart and with a grace and acceptance of the path that I, uniquely, am on. It doesn’t look like anyone else’s map and when I compare it others’ lives that’s when I find myself in deep trouble.
When I look back on my life, it has surpassed my expectations in so many ways. So much so that is seems ungrateful to complain about the parts that haven’t worked out the way I’d hoped. I certainly thought I’d be married by now and possibly have had kids, but that isn’t the way that part of my life worked out. And, I don’t know if I’d trade any of the complicated romantic relationships I’ve had (and the ones to come) for the security that marriage brings. How can you ever know something like that? Though my friends assure me otherwise when I say this, I’m not so sure I would have made a very good mom. I’m way too selfish and way too fearful. I can’t imagine ever letting my kid out of my sight. My heart would be in my throat every minute.
My life so far has felt like one great adventure. An adventure where sometimes I feel so clearly in control (yeah, right) and other times where I feel like a leaf being blown by some force so much greater than I and I have no idea where I’ll land.
And it’s all led me to this point. This point where I am in the middle of my life and all I want is more. More of it all. As I’ve written before, my father’s in failing health — he was even in the hospital earlier this week and had a small heart attack—and I see him with the same spirit I feel even though he’s 36 years older than I am. Even though it’s not the life he used to have and wishes he still had, he still so wants to stay around for more. These last few weeks, I’ve been in awe of his spirit and the sheer life force —there’s no better term that I can think of — that he possesses. And I understand it.
Writing this blog this year has taught me so much about myself and it has changed me in fundamental ways that I am still trying to figure out. I know it’s made me kinder and I know that kindness is more important than any other virtue. That and being of service. It’s made me feel more connected to the world and less lonely. I don’t remember a year where I’ve had so few down days. I was never a particularly depressed person, but I certainly had periods where I would feel down and very, very alone. That has happened so little this year and when it has, it has been fleeting. Even on the days I haven't wanted to write an entry, the blog has never felt like anything less than a blessing in my life.
As I head into the last month of the blog I already feel a sense of loss that it will be over in 33 days...yet, as of now, I plan to still end it on Dec. 31, 2013. Though the wrenching pang I feel as I write that line makes me realize I really need to come to grips with what happens on Jan. 1, 2014. But I have a feeling it will be time to look at the lessons I’ve learned this year and put them into practice.
Pearl Jam put out a song called “Sirens” earlier this year and it has resonated with me from the first moment I heard it while I sat in the living room looking out on the waves at the condo I rented in September in Topsail Island, N.C. The song is about love and life and letting go and wondering when the sirens will be coming for you. It’s this verse that gets to me every time: “Oh, it’s a fragile thing, this life we lead. If I think too much, I can get overwhelmed by the graces by which we live our lives with death over our shoulders.”
I hope you’ve had a good Thanksgiving.
Nov. 28: Durham Rescue Mission
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