Gratitude

I came away with questions for myself. Looking back from this week at ways I’d interact. Look slowly and kindly. Allow I had my faults. Not the ones screamed at me, but choices, habits, fears sit close upon memory and I want to look at them. Mainly because I’m writing. Memoir. Pieces of myself, my story. They are part of it, the story.

Sometimes I think my main goal must be to see how many unused drafts I can stare at in my Drafts folder; fifteen so far. The small paragraph above is one of them. Dated January 9, 2022, it resonates hope. While I have no recollection of the week in question, my encouragement to myself in these words is to look at and look past faults, choices, habits and fears., reasons I have used to let things sit, because doing so is who I am and moving beyond is breaking a terrible rule.

February brought an email accepting a poem for a local publication; online this year again as pandemic changes brought about more blog than paper publication of items. March brought another opportunity for essay to be included in an anthology on Gratitude. That one was hard. I fought with it as I fought the topic the past two years in memoir, struggling with what to say. You can’t always repeat thoughts of pain and sorrow. After a while they get wearing even to the writer. Time, as they say, bring change, allows perspective, optimism or hope. I don’t like flogging that last one either. The whole topic reminds me of days in very good mental health groups as both participant and support where I’d struggle with our common leave-taking. Expression of gratitude.

I love the gratitude of walking among trees, sitting by streams, icecream in two flavour stacks on a double cone. The tangible moments that tug at my heart, add colour to the day, draw out my senses, calling like echoes of remembrance to places within. Words are not needed for gratitude, and though I talk to the wind, the sky and the birds, it’s not required by any of us. My favourite memories are smiles and looks that share some moment of grace. The world open up and suddenly a space holds its breath, allowing the wait. Yes, these are the moments I value the most.

And this, at best, is where I sat two silent months waiting for what, I did not know. Some call it writer’s block. Perhaps, at times. But I found so many words bursting within for other places, nowhere at all. They just didn’t fit, and I’ve learned not to force them, though it is hard to sit. My time increased at work, just touching 28 hours. Enough to keep me full-time. Not enough to keep me afloat. I think perhaps writing stalls in the places of loss, where I haven’t chosen career, haven’t braved the risk of siren’s call ‘Monetize Your Blog – three easy steps.” No. I’m pretty sure it’s more than three, and nothing wrong with doing so for those with a plan to earn a living in this way. I’m a bit off topic, but connected still.

Readiness – to write, to paint, to aim for a career – it may need more gratitude than I’ve let myself feel. I joke with fellow writers, once again ‘this year’ is the year I will risk, will submit, will step past the barricade and allow myself to be .. what? There lies the issue. I don’t know what, and a lifetime of habit has taught me to be small, and not even that. One ongoing conversation a decade back questioned the reasons within relationship, to significant other, I fought the judgement I was too big and too small. Not significant enough, but too high and mighty for his daily mood. A bad fit. A poor example, a multitude of labels, and ultimately as my mother assessed it, just the wrong personality for him.

Gratitude. I learned something this year. Looked it up. Not just in my favourite etymology site, which simply defines it as ‘pleasing, thankful’, but in heart’s home, curiosity. This time wanting to know how my love saw it, what it meant in the good places I’d found recent years, encouraged to find myself and grow, being loved as I did. And so, I asked our favourite Google how gratitude was seen in the Hebrew meaning. I found myself among trees, sitting by streams, letting memory ache with the longing of joy, places I’d touched, but not this past year. Places I need to go again, to listen to the wind, let water bugs curl in the waves by my feet. Let this place speak to me its words of tender care. A moment of grief in a lifetime of love.

I am not stuck. I may not always move forward well, but slow, like a turtle or the snails I sat by two summers past, I will get where I’m going. In writing. In life. The moments of connection with present memories allow space for me to listen and to learn. The Hebrew form of gratefulness, like I found with my love, who worked hard with me at relationship, and announced it with a smile, “we worked through some tuff stuff and built a strong relationship”. Yes, Jack, we did, and celebrated it along the way with simple smiles.

Gratitude. I looked it up. I found the Hebrew meaning in several sites, two words ‘hakarat hatov’ with their translation into English. Something beautiful to read. I like the phrase and I like the story I found in one site giving more, an example that touches my heart. Harakat hatov ‘to recognize the good’. It is a gift I will hold onto and learn to live well. And the story, possibly urban legend, about a performance by Itzhak Perlman used to demonstrate what it means.

It seems to be that year, gratitude wants to smile. I’ll wait, I’ll listen and know the good is there. What else is there to say, but thank you for this day.

For those who wish to read the story, I’ll link it here. Enjoy if you will or just wait for your own moment of gratitude, your example, your breeze.

https://jewishcamp.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Gratitude_-_Mussar_Institute.pdf

Imperfections

February’s been a rough month. March too. I ping between okay and ‘oh so over it’. I’ve hit the wall. All I have left is to write about it.

On one hand, I have a small box called apartment. It’s crammed full of left over bits of past life and the one I’m trying to live now. Creativity wages war with it daily; art and writing supplies, music all fight for space.

I write regularly, paint occasionally. Mostly my keyboard and guitar cower against one wall, asking me to practice. I paid for a month of guitar lessons, tossed a penny into the well of expectation and hope it brings good things. Last week, encouraging words from my teacher assured me that regardless of my frustration with ‘only’ practicing one song and one scale, I have done a good job. Okay. I’ll bite. I’ve done well. Now believe it.

I want to improve my art. Create paintings I love and learn to part with them. To do that, I need a better grip on money and budgets both for home and sales. Even if it’s just for fun, I’d like enough to replenish supplies, I need to let myself learn the basics of give and take, hobby or business.

I want to release things I’ve written. Send them further out. Not just the one or two places I know who are open to it. I want to push past the barriers and broaden my reach.

What scares me about writing? People tell me I’m good, I have a raw way of writing. It draws people. They see it in pieces I’m doing for a memoir. Say, I have a strong, staccato style to my poetry. I read a list of possible literary magazines suggested to me. I probed their online offerings and re-read. Decided to write a cover letter and choose some poems to send.

But then, a tangible restraint on my arms. typing has weight. sleep falls upon me, passing out like with a migraine. and less obvious shut down, internal, my body folds in on itself, origami folding into invisibility. impossible. i need to move. i need to …. submit …. ringing past intentions, rules that bind. breathe swallowed up within lungs that strain hesitation.

Words. They lean towards poetry. They leap at opportunity, but cringe at expectation. Dear words, can you help? I want you to know full expression. I hope this year to let you fly.