I’ve been thinking about gratitude lately. Almost involuntarily. I’ve been wondering, is gratitude a prerequisite to living well?
I just came back from a short vacation to Lake Tahoe. And as I got closer to home, that sinking feeling seeped in, “I am returning to an empty house.” I loved being married, you came home to the person you loved. Better yet, you went away with them, came home together and dealt with anything that came up in between. After the long drive home, one of you could shop, the other unpack, then chat about the wonders of your trip over pasta together.
But that was the past. I decided to be grateful that I was returning to my lovely home, and do a few nice things for myself. I would get the car washed so it was shiny. I would buy some yummy groceries so the fridge was stocked instead of gaping at me, empty and remorseful. Then I might even buy a few flowers and…
The car battery had died. In 90 degree heat with a trunk full of the overpriced gourmet shit I’d bought to cheer myself up. I went back into the grocery store with my purchases and waited for Triple A. I got a charge. I drove home, left the engine running and unloaded my food, dropping the bags and breaking the eggs. Then, in rush hour, driving in a direction I always avoid after 2:00 p.m., I went to the dealership, got a new battery and drove home in more rush hour.
And did I mention my throbbing foot from some weird bug bite I got on the trip? I have always though that the great outdoors does not like me. Now I know for sure, it has told me so in swollen, purple skin.
Oh yeah, back to gratitude. The people at the dealership are awesome, checking fluid levels and tire pressure on my car and doing the work close to closing time. It got fixed quickly. I should be grateful that everything is fine.
But after a long drive home from Tahoe I was cranky and whimpering. Were George still alive, he’d replace the battery himself or drive to the dealership (carpool lane) with me, or at least help carry the fucking, now slightly dented groceries. And that is the problem I am having with gratitude.
I can look at my post-George experiences and be grateful for them in the abstract, but in a concrete, day-to-day way, it’s hard. I am trying to visualize positive outcomes, to do interesting things, and to be grateful for (relative) security and new experiences. I am working on being grateful for time alone and a boyfriend I can hang out with, but do not have to live with. I’ve talked to a few friends lately who have extolled the joys of being in a relationship, but living apart. (I myself think a man is most useful when fixing things or at least getting the takeout while you wait for the plumber).
So something goes wrong around the house or the battery dies and it’s anger time. Do I need to be grateful? Is this an effective way to look at change or just a way to sell new aged crap packaged on t-shirts and aspirational post-its? While I was having my ordeal. my boyfriend was at “Wilco Appreciation Day” at Amoeba Records.
Gratitude or an unbalanced, off-kilter universe?