Happy Thanksgiving! The most beloved American holiday with the most vile origin story. Here we are.
Every day in my journal I write about something for which I am grateful. They say it's a helpful practice for people like me. The folks with the depressions and bipolars and anxieties and other psychic maladies. They say it's really helpful for just about anyone, actually. And I tend to believe that.
But sometimes things become stale and rote. Ticking the gratitude box as a means of progressing through the daily to-do list. Am I really grateful for forks? Or did I need to come up with something to be grateful for and I happened to be sitting down to eat breakfast so I just picked the first thing that came to mind? No one will ever know.
So is it even useful to practice gratitude? I just read a thing about how *actually* gratitude has a serious dark side. Ugh. Apparently, the practice can lead to an increase in one's likelihood to be obedient. Kind of like a self-gaslighting mechanism. Interesting, right?
Kinda reminds me of this Ray Romano (as "Terry") line from The Big Sick: "You go online, they hated Forrest Gump. The frickin' best movie ever." Yeah, you go online and they hate gratitude. The frickin' best mental-health practice ever. They hate affirmations, meditations, perspective-altering substances and all sorts of things that seem to help people stop feeling worthless. But they have their reasons. They're not dumb. It's a big world with many perspectives. But goddamn.
The truth is even though I was obsessed with Forrest Gump when it was released in 1994 (I saw it three times in the theater, just like I did with Pulp Fiction, which arrived the same year), I can recognize why it is so problematic. But am I better off for my more nuanced and informed perspective on the film? I don't know. Am I better off knowing there is a dark side to gratitude? I don't know. Maybe it doesn't matter.
Maybe it doesn't even work for me. Maybe I'm preventing myself from experiencing real growth by focusing so much on gratitude. To what or whom have I become too obedient? I don't know.
So now, having said all that, here are some things I'm grateful for this year (in no particular order). For better or for worse:
- My sweet, sweet sweetie Annie. Her love and partnership form my foundation. Such a great fucking gal. I am really lucky.
- Family. Family is a lot different from how it used to be. There are people and traditions I miss. Sure. But goddamn, it is really nice to not have to be anyone's scapegoat. It is really nice to not be the fucking family dumpster. My life is filled with the best people now. My circle is small, but always growing. Always strong. Always providing a solid foundation. As Duck Phillips related to Pete Campbell in Mad Men (and I paraphrase), family provides a person's "wellspring of confidence." Yeah. I feel that now.
- Mantequilla. My little baby kitty. So soft and nice. So snuggly. So youthful and vigorous. So naughty. So easy to forgive.
- This body. I'm doing all right for 46, all things considered. I can do just about anything I want, physically. And when things get a little funky, I know the stretches and exercises to make it all okay again.
- Things to look forward to -- a season of skiing, the release of my second album, the completion of new original songs in my repertoire, friendly gatherings, the continued growth of healthy roots. All that kind of stuff. The future is bright.
- Toast with lots and lots of butter. It's fucking great, right? Butter that fucker up!
- New Mexico. Mountains, blue skies, dramatic clouds, groovy people and delicious food. All four seasons. All that. And enough shadowy stuff to keep the masses away.
- Maine. Forests and rivers and rocks and ocean access. Cheap cannabis for out-of-state medical card holders. Vacationland, indeed! I can't return soon enough.
- Travel. I've been all over and I'm better off for it.
- Home. A geographic location. A house. The people who live here. The landscape. The consistency. The familiarity.
- Inspiration. Always having ideas. Never being bored. Almost always ready and willing to face a challenge. Almost never unable to execute in a satisfying manner.
- Cashews. They are just perfect. Roasted and salted.
- Dentistry. I regret not taking good care of my teeth for much of my adult life. I am grateful for those professionals who have helped me take corrective measures with the contents of my mouth.
- Therapy. Thank you, Venus.
- The release of tension
- The ability to relax into excellence
- The continued examination of the ego
- The integration of the lessons
- Cannabis, mushrooms and LSD
- People who represent nothing and no one other than themselves
- The funk
- The groove
There you go. I have scratched the surface. The list continues in my head.
Do You Gratitude?
What are you grateful for? Did you read the stuff about the shadow side of gratitude? Do you practice gratitude? What are the holidays like for you? What do you really want? Are you safe? Can you get there from here? Who are you?
Have a wonderful day, friends.