Gratitude.

When I was in high school, a couple of my English teachers had a small poster on their classroom walls that, I believe, came from William Safire. One of the rules was “Avoid clichés like the plague.”

I keep thinking about that while trying to write this entry. It’s supposed to be all about what I’m thankful for this year in spite of this year generally being a trainwreck. But how do you write that without sounding like some sort of saccharine greeting card? And how do you sincerely say you are thankful for the things everyone else is thankful for and actually sound sincere?

This problem, to be honest, existed for me before 2020 reared its ugly head. I used to be able say things in earnest with sincerity, especially when I was a teenager, but one too many reactions that made me feel like a fucking idiot beat that out of me and the “snarky=intelligent” attitude fully took hold. I think the best comparison here would be that layer of ice that sometimes gets on top of freezer burned ice cream (in the Albert Brooks/Debbie Reynolds movie Mother, Reynolds calls it “protective ice”)–you can scrape it off but the ice cream doesn’t taste as sweet. Plus, it’s hard not to feel guilty about feeling thankful this year because that thankfulness comes from a place of privilege that’s denied to so many people in our society. How could you possibly find anything positive in this?

So here I sit.

And yet I’m not as bitter as I probably should be right now. Of course, that could be the anti-anxiety meds kicking in, but as I work through this form of writer’s block, I find myself thankful that I have the time to actually do this. My days for the past few weeks have been constantly busy, and it seems like I have thought of nothing but how I am failing at so much in work and life. Shit, I just started posting here again after a couple of weeks of not writing anything because my “uncollecting checklist” has been sparse. My seasonal anxiety and the depression that comes with it are all about making me putting things off and telling me that I don’t want to do what I like doing.

But don’t we all do that from time to time, get exhausted that we want to just quit everything? Not only that, don’t we all start to spiral at some point?

I can’t tell you why, aside from my own personal bullshit, I tend to find myself in this state. Part of me wants to blame my own mental and emotional deficiencies, especially since I’m literally working on this in therapy; part of me wants to blame the way our culture seems to demand–consciously or unconsciously–unachievable standards. In other words, we’re all miserable and fuck you for being happy.

But then, when I step back for a moment and try to push aside said bullshit, I can actually see what is good in life and about life. We go into this holiday season watching some people flip the hell out over having to sacrifice while others readily step up and do so. With the coming of better leadership and scientific breakthrough, we also have some hope on the horizon. And while we wait for that to come, there are people around us–at home and beyond– who are encouraging, supportive, and loving. I’m thankful for that and the joy it brings.

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