Gratitude

Gratitude does not come automatically to one who waits for the next tragic phone call. To one who spent years defending an intellectual stand for expecting the worst. It takes a forced statement or mediation on something "else". And it often takes what feels like heroic effort. To risk life and limb to search and rescue gems that hide behind my habit of hustle and strive and fail justify and criticize. To indulge in a break from momentum and trust that there will be a reward. Im sure that's a critical part of the secret for people who aren't graced with automatic sunshine. To search for the glorious and the adorable in the mundane and the sucky. I know beautiful things are everywhere. likely in greater abundance than the other crap. I know because I've taken part in this practice on and off for for a good part of my life. I aspire for this to develop into less of a job. To exchange my minds old, cruddy filters with fresh and more permeable ones that allow rose colored everything to breathe through, and to develop my ability to mine pebbles of fortune from the rubble of my regret. That soothes. That saves.  
A painless world tempts me. It used to be an urging. A blaring call to uncomplicate and to escape and I would drive faster, take more, breathe less, visit places where people die regularly and I would say -what will
be will be-. I've balanced on the ledge, careened toward the wall and clenched the lethal dose in my clammy palm.
An insidious seduction, this stuff of quitters and settlers and no-shows and soul thieves. I don't think I'm perfectly immune to its seduction, but Im no longer impressed. I see escape as a long, hot bath
overflowing and leaving the house soft and rotten. I've lived in such a house. I've played that movie through to the credits and the ironic outtakes and and I've suffered the loss of more than a few escape-artists...some of whom I love. One being my brother.
We're all worried. We all hate. And we all have deeply beautiful stories. We keep them hidden and they contort us and abuse us and enslave us and lie.
Im not over the people I've lost. Or losing. Then and now I scream at the news of those who took their lives and left our hearts a mushroom cloud. This year was tough.
I'm now wholly certain that there are no specific prerequisite shortcomings. One needn't have an addiction, a diagnosis, a prescription, a maligned gene, an insane parent, or a tragic episode to suffer misconceptions about their self worth or about the
nature of this 'human' business. Some of us simply find ourselves alone.
The bleeding, loud and misbehaving get our attention. But the quietly hurting are the majority. The sufferrings which we lock behind our smiles are acid for our hearts.
I don't know what it is that managed to keep ME afloat for another day after day when I saw no future and despised my present. I knew that I had potential, but it appeared as a yearning. Not as a goal. This
moment....one of aspiring fulfillment....wasn't on the horizon. Periscope down and stuck there. Maybe it was that I saw that my parents would
surely die if I left...just as they did when my brother took HIS life. I despised that responsibly but honored it nonetheless. Maybe it helped that I dumped my guts onto lined paper and guitar strings and that
very thing became my promise. That something about me knew it wasn't about me and that my suffering wasn't as important to the world as my
light. Maybe it was the people who love me and hold me up when I'm wobbly and stupid. Maybe I'm just afraid of the drastic change.  
Im thankful for whatever modicum of moral discernment allowed me to hold the gun but not pull the trigger. To taste the poison but finally spit.
When I allow my mind to run, I'm beaten. I see no way out. But when I serve and create and build and connect....I lust.
It consumes me and defies logic and responsibility.
And I think that anyone who hurts themselves inwardly or outwardly and realizes it (but doesn't stop) is, by and large, an abuser….if not an addict. Junkies get all the attention, but addicts are everywhere. And addicts are like zombies. Not bad. Just starving.
Now it's different. I worry that the life which I know is a gift might end tomorrow or today and I play through the delivery of the news and the spread of the surprise
and the grief of my dear ones. I've known hatred and heaven and bloodshed and bliss and have sissy-slapped my way through the gauntlet of second
guessing the billion miles in between. And then I play though the eventual moments of light. Of
them getting over it. Of them getting back to their lives. All the natural and appropriate stages of mourning. But unnaturally experienced BY ME and FOR ME prematurely. I'm grieving my own mortality. My own actual demise. And before I fall
off to dreamland, I worry and I calculate and I stand in the blinding chill of my
middle age and sometimes I fucking hate it so I consider the next friend, write the next sentence, hum the next line and pray to whatever good there is in the
universe thatI can bask long enough in its beam to do something worthwhile.  
Stressful shit.

So thank you. Not God. Not sure about her...no offense. But maybe. But thank you, world for including me. For Good. Because I do believe in Good. Thank you. Thank you. For breath in and breath out. Thank you. For animals who invade my space and for needy people who don't. For Catskill mountains majesty. For community, language, laughter and harmony. For those who
listen and for those who I ignore. For hope-fiends and dreamers...annoying and sweet.
For the internet and for books. For each chance to start again. For my body and for yours. For this ocean of gifts which seems to be an almost constant struggle. For taking less for granted. For taking more
to heart. For all that is blissful and for all that is awful.
I hunger for relief. But feast on life.

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