It is easy to be grateful for the birth and continued health of my children, the wild blackberries that ripen by the thousands every day in the woods around my home, and that I found — and have enough sense to treasure — the love of my life.
I have a great deal less ease feeling grateful when the children want to visit while I’m trying to write, or their coach adds a tournament to the schedule that conflicts with a workshop I plan to attend, or I receive an email explaining that they haven’t turned in a Spanish project they’ve known about for four months.
The blackberries come with thorns, ticks, and snakes. Meeting my wife was an unexpected and most brilliant development in the previously disastrous and heartbreaking romantic storyline of my life. Best friends sometimes move away, beautiful things sometimes get broken, and far too often it is affirmed that the good really do die young.
In times like these, thankfulness is rarely the first emotion to flood into my body. I can find fear in all of its most common manifestations — anger, depression, jealousy, greed, procrastination, anxiety, confusion, sadness, desperation, etc. — and it is easy to be overwhelmed by them, to feel powerless against what’s being done to me.
This first perception of myself as victim opens a door that, if I believe myself incapable of closing it, welcomes the next one and the next. This could easily become the only life that I can remember having…
The longer I stay there — held in that view of myself as a victim of another person or a situation or an organization — the more disconnected I become from myself. My sense of power, intuition, and magical nature become strangers to me. My integrity morphs into a weapon I begin to use to abuse myself. Eventually, I welcome into my experience new people, things, and experiences that will reinforce this distorted perception of myself as a powerless woman.
The situations I mentioned above are not the worst of them, of course. Women are violated, sometimes even by the ones who were supposed to protect them. Addiction, violence, and betrayal — and the endless fallout from them — seem to be vibrating strongly throughout our society of late. On my mind today are some of the women in my world, including one who, for a thousand understandable but still terrible reasons, hates that she is gay. There is a brilliant and talented single mother with a heart of gold whose former husband is now married to the other woman. And the one who, for today at least, feels like her heart has been broken for good this time.
Today, it is my wish that every Wild One remember this: True freedom comes when we are able to find within us gratitude for all that we have experienced, even the worst of it, because of who it allowed us to become.