Tuesday, July 19, 2011

So, What'd We Learn Here? (Daily Gratitude Post-Mortem)

The final post for my series on gratitude was supposed to conclude on my birthday (July 16, for those of you who want to take a minute to go jot that down on a calendar so you can shower me with gifts and well-wishes next year). But I didn't do it, because I wanted to leave you hanging. Nah. Truth is, I didn't want to rush a missive on gratitude on a day that was packed with other activities, thoughts, and wallowings.

Now that I've allowed myself these handful of days to ruminate... Honestly, there's no gut-wrenching analysis on the fruits of exercise.

On a practical level, I wanted to force myself to write--or at least think about writing--every day in a concrete, focused way. It sharpens ye olde observation skills if you're thinking about things as potential blog or fiction fodder. To go through the somewhat academic exercise of evaluating the entertainment level of a story or a thought forces you to recognize that every stray thought that tumbles through your cranium is not gold. It's helping me build up what Hemingway so classically called "a shit detector."

Oh my God. Did I just reference Hemingway? Feel free to punch me in the face if I ever, ever, ever refer to Ernest Hemingway as "Papa."

There were varying degrees of success. My natural voice is one of dissent, snark, and critique, so forcing myself into this construct of gratitude was, at times, challenging. And when you divert your natural flow, I think it surfaces as awkward phrasing. And bad, bad editing. A younger me would have gone back and corrected every error. But the current me shrugs if I happen to miss it in the Preview. Lazy, lazy, current me.

On an emotional level, this past month has been really hard for me, as I knew it would be. So, I wanted to cleave to something more positive rather than spelunk spectacularly into flashbacks to my mother's diagnosis of terminal cancer, unending days in the hospital, and the constant low-level of panic. The days when I was grateful for coffee and other completely inconsequential things? These were days when I missed my mother terribly.

And on a reflective level, I realize the common themes of gratitude splayed out in html are my husband, my children, my family, and my friends. As it should be, no?

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