Friday, October 17, 2014

Frickin' Attitude of Gratitude

I spend an inordinate amount of time asking my ten year old son to "live with an attitude of gratitude" mostly because he is A VERY GOOD AMERICAN. He lives every single moment of his seriously short existence looking at what's next, what else can he have, what more can he have, and what better thing is out there.

Thanks to Google TV we spend loads of time browsing on our big screen and Mr. Ten feels that his life is generally without purpose, joy, or fulfillment. And so I spend inordinate amounts of time asking him to "live with an attitude of gratitude" and look around him for the riches he can't quantify. But I do the same for myself.

At present I am grateful for so many things in a world gone mad over foreign viruses, over madmen in countries we don't understand, and over every manner of lifestyle, belief or way of living that doesn't fit into a neat Ikea box. These are a few of my favorite things:

*A job, a home and a reliable vehicle. These are first and foremost. No matter how I feel on any given day about the job, or how hovelish my home feels, or how much duct tape the interior of my car contains...all three things rise to the occasion and provide a life for my family.

*Money that I sometimes have leftover from paying for our basic expenses that I can elect to spend on books, martinis, candles, fizzing bath bombs, roomy sweaters to hide my expanding middle because I also spend leftover money on chai tea lattes and bottles of red wine. And bread. I buy bread with the leftovers. And I love these things.

*My children's artwork from school, no matter how wonky or weirdly painted or flat out bizarre...because this leads me to what I'm REALLY thankful for and that's no "thing."

When I tell Mr. Ten to live with an attitude of gratitude, I don't mean to be thankful for our stuff. I mean for him to learn, on a very basic level, to be thankful for so much of what his life ISN'T.

He isn't living in an area of the world which cannot handle a virus sweeping through its people, nor is he living in a country which unleashes chemical weapons on its sleeping citizens. We don't suffer under the strain of government induced poverty while oligarchs rule from above (no matter what the 24-hour cable news networks just isn't true!) and we don't fear for our safety and freedom when we express our thoughts and feelings.

Mr. Ten lives in the very lap of luxury before he even starts to look at his STUFF. And he has a shit ton of stuff. Thousands of dollars and ten year's worth of Legos, Star Wars memorabilia and toys, Dr. Who apparel, sonic screwdrivers, and oh my God....Netflix! For the love of red capes and four tined spoons, what the hell else does a kid need?!?

Oh right - fresh air (we got it) a safe neighbor for outside play (got that, too) parents who adore him and spend their lives looking to his happiness, health and education (yeah, that's me and Dad). He has it all. And so to not live with an attitude of gratitude is a slap in the face of everyone who works hard around him, and who worked hard before him. His great-grandparents worked very hard to provide a life made better for his grandparents, who in turn worked hard for his father and me.

And Mr. Ten might as well be all of us: every single one. Because all of us need a reminder to live with this attitude of thankfulness - and not just on the third Thursday in November. Even on the second Tuesday in May. And the first Saturday in September. And really the whole month of February, because if you live in the Midwest of the United States, that's when you need gratitude most. It's a spectacularly miserable month.

So I'm thankful right now for my laptop, where I've spent a bit of time doing something that fills my bucket right back up to the top, for Mr. Ten who reminds me to remind him about all we have and forces me to count blessings with him, and for you...because if you're all the way down here on the page, then you've given this whole exercise a deeper meaning.


But, honestly, also this....