Gratitude

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Another shooting, this time in Mississippi, pops up when I open my homepage, and I sigh, put my hand to my head and move on. There’s been so much violence of late, much of it in the name of religion, and that makes me sad. I have deep spiritual beliefs and faith has gotten me from the down place of a cancer diagnosis four years ago, now, and through the eventual surgery, after my medical cannabis was no longer working to contain that cancer. That same faith has also, recently picked me up from the depression I felt after learning, via a phone call from the nurse at the clinic where I see my primary doctor, that I am diabetic. It’s type II, which is some good news, but the news still hit me like a wall, and sent me into a bit of a down tailspin for a couple of days.

That I have other things going on now, like some changes in my relationship (my partner is moving to another city, and though it’s not that far, my abandonment issues are coming up; even though I know we’ll still be seeing each other), and the fact that a new friend is out of town for the summer. They are backpacking a dangerous trail in Europe, and I worry, because I’m a worrier, even though I trust that they are more than capable of handling whatever challenges arise. That’s why I love them, right, because they are capable and brave? Yep.

So, in the middle of meditation the other day, or maybe upon waking, I thought to myself, “why don’t I get back to basics that I learned when I became clean and sober over 20 years ago, to practice gratitude?” and the thought caught fire in my heart. I told myself, after walking past some guys shooting hoops at a park near the farmer’s market I go to every Saturday, and seeing how much fun they were having, wanting to join in.

Then I realized that my energy is unpredictable of late. Twice I’ve had my energy suddenly flag, in the middle of being out and about, and had to hurry to get food into my body, to get my blood sugar level, and I wanted to do other things that day, requiring a lot of energy and requiring me to be away from home.

I felt a bit bitter, at first, because before cancer and before diabetes, I would join in such romps, or just shoot hoops on my own, or even play squash. I miss being that active, but then I also realized I have much to be grateful for too.

Then I decided that instead of focusing on what I don’t have, or can’t do, to every day say out loud, or write in my journal, something, or someone I’m grateful for. I walked on to my workout, grateful for the workout ahead of me, grateful that the rain had ended, finally, and the day was bright with sunshine and blue skies.

Later, at home, I thought how grateful I am to have nourishing food in my refrigerator and grateful for a partner who helps me out financially, when my own funds are tight, so I have this bounty. I am also grateful for the love of that partner and the new friendship, and the care of this person, who brings me laughter, beauty and is my muse, inspiring so many poems. In fact, I think I’m most grateful for Daniel, a bright, intelligent, and thoughtful man, who is shyly coming out as trans. I am grateful they have chosen me and my partner to be witnesses to their transformation, and grateful for the fun times we’ve shared alone, watching movies, eating pizza and talking about everything until the wee hours of the morning. I am always grateful to see Daniel, dressed as the beautiful woman she is, and grateful she has brought hope and appreciation of my own beauty to my life.

The list goes on, including my minister, at the queer/trans-friendly church I regularly attend, and all of the members who listen to me struggle to walk the path I have chosen as a gender non-conforming man, and struggle to deal with another medical diagnosis, and my resulting issues around it. I also know the list will be ongoing and that some days this will work better than others.

As the world gets more chaotic and there is more change in and around me, I find it helpful to remember this basic. To be grateful, for what is good and beautiful and life-affirming in my life. No matter what comes, I can do this, and I know I’m not alone, even if I feel I am, and I know there is help for me and I can ask for it and it will be there.

I also know there is light and good and no matter what people do, the divine presence/goddess/God/holy fire/great spirit is always watching and orchestrating change and this presence does not hate, does not ask for blood sacrifices of innocent lives and does not punish or judge. I’m grateful knowing that too, and when I think this way, nothing is too big for me to handle.

May all of your own journeys start with the remembrance to be grateful, for we all have something to be grateful for, whether large or small. Blessed be.

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About Author

James Stansberry lives and writes in Seattle and can be reached at ijanaral@yahoo.com .

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