I wonder, if given enough time, I could think of all the things I'm grateful for. I doubt it--I don't think there's a list long enough to capture all that I have to fall to my knees for. But more than that, to me, gratitude isn't for things. Not really. It's a way of living, something we act out every day. Go forth in gratitude is a phrase I've heard somewhere along the line that echoes in my head at least once a day, if not more. Go forth in gratitude, I remind myself, like a mantra. It makes all days better--even when nothing goes right, when I'm tired and cranky and can't seem to get words on the page. Even when everything goes right, when I'm delirious in joy and good fortune. It enhances both experiences. It makes me a better person, not to mention a better teacher, friend, sister, daughter, student, classmate and writer. Has anyone ever regretted being too grateful? I think not. There's a blogger I admire who often writes, "Here's to gratitude, and how it turns everything into enough," and I think it's one of the loveliest, truest sentiments I've ever heard. Living in gratitude, recognizing our many blessings, is the quickest way to peace I've found so far--and I haven't been here for too long, but I like to think I've learned at least a thing or two.
On Thanksgiving (a day, granted, whose tradition I struggle with), I want to acknowledge the great many things I have to be grateful for. It's not an exhaustive list, but it's a start at scratching the surface. So here goes:
My dog, Cedar. My family: Mom, Dad, Rachelle, Samantha, Garrett. My cousins, near and far. My sweet, lovely and kind friends who look after me from thousands of miles away. Good dance songs. The radio. The quality of light in my kitchen. My water tumbler. Good coffee (here's looking at you, Caffe Umbria). Portland State University. All my Aunts. Dinner parties. The ranch. Mornings without alarms. Late nights out, early nights in. Local bookstores. The smell of wet leaves. The bitter tang of juniper. Road trips. When Cedar wags his tail in his sleep. New places. Long hikes. The feeling when you jump into a cold river, lake or stream. All my Uncles. Vegetables fresh out of the dirt. Flowers, all kinds. Bumblebees. New boots. When you find a shirt you thought you'd lost. Dancing in the kitchen by myself. Airplanes. My car, GG. Love, even when you let it go. The desert. Feminism. Specialty grocery stores. The sound of wind in trees. The strength of women. Duck feet in water. Podcasts. Smart TV shows. Warm food. The smell of brownies baking when you get home. The way my Uncle Jason says, "Hey, Lauren!" Cute babies. The sound of the heat kicking on. A breeze right when you need it. Watching squirrels. Sunny days that last forever. The ocean. Forests. Art that feeds the imagination. Raft trips. Walking into my parent's house. The elk that gave its life for me this year. My camera. Bold jewelry. A cozy restaurant. The wingbeats of chukar, en masse. A trail in southern Oregon on a hot day, smelling like spicy pine. My grandparents, the way they move around each other like they're dancing. Weddings. Inside jokes. Climb nights with my Aunt Heather. Phone calls with my two best friends. Creeks that burble and chuckle like people. The Season's Greetings tumblers from my Grandma Claire. The feeling of reading the first page of a really good new book. Staying up late in a different country. Falling asleep without realizing it. Journals. Lighting a pretty candle. Smooth and glide-y pens. Workshop nights when your piece is up. Watching strangers' faces light up when they see my sweet dog. The piano. Laughing until it hurts. Cross-cultural family friendships. The kindness of strangers, everywhere. My Verona. The sound of geese passing overhead. Writing you can wrap yourself up in. When I get the seat I like on the bus and get so engrossed in a book I almost miss my stop. My students. Feeling hopeful. Museums. Waking up in a tent. Cool front doors. Pinecones. Frogs in the grass at Sauvie's. My Dad's cooking. Clean sheets on the bed. Turkeys at the ranch. My study. Bird song. Ideas you get lost in. The feeling after I've written something I like. Gin and tonics in the summer. Bars, all kinds. Lake of the Woods. Jazz music. Instagram. Quiet mornings with coffee. Christmas trees. Sunrises, sunsets. Songs from childhood I know all the words to. When my quick wit surprises my Dad into laughing. My Mom saying "Hiiii!" on the phone. Walking in the rain. Watching it rain outside. Going for a run, feeling my legs stretch. Being hungry and having exactly the food you want on hand. Rooms that look just like the people who live in them. Sitting down at the top of a ridge you just climbed. Expansive views. Horizon lines. The idea of old-timey pirate ships. Antique stores. Brass candleholders. Placemats we've had forever. Knowing just what you think about something and being able to say it out loud. Very tall trees. Greens so green they hurt your eyes. Thick wool socks.
And on, and on, and on. So my friends, go forth in gratitude.