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…