“That inspirational quote you posted cured my clinical depression and helped me focus on what’s really important.”
~Said no one ever
We had a day of gratitude yesterday, Raphael and me.
As we mentioned to each other how grateful we were for the simple things in life, parking spaces appeared (with time left on the meter), hassle-free food at a crowded concert showed up, there were even two empty seats in front of us for the first half of a sold-out show.
Now, I know what you’re thinking.
Shut the fuck up! What do we have to be grateful for? Face reality! The world is a horrible, threatening place filled with uncertainty, hate, and people who are looking to do us harm.
Well, maybe you’re not saying that, but people do. A lot of people. And they get very angry when the word gratitude gets mentioned.
These days, saying you’re grateful has become a subversive act—the molotov cocktail of declarations. If you have the audacity to utter the words in mixed company, say at a bar-b-que or something, it can make you a lightning rod for a spew of vitriol the likes of Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
To some folks, it’s as bad as admitting you voted for Hillary—or that you slap puppies.
Yesterday we felt gratitude. There. I said it.
We are blessed in so many ways and whatever argument you yell in my face you cannot talk me out of it—so please stop trying. And I realize it is just as impossible for me to change your mind.
Reading this will not help. Words will never change you. That I know for sure.
You have to be willing to look at things differently by literally taking your eyes out of your head and dipping them in something pleasant–and preferably fizzy—perhaps some pink champagne or one of those fruity Pellegrino drinks that are a “thing” right now. Let the bubbles help clarify your vision.
Do something, anything shocking to break the pattern.
Because only seeing the shit in life has become the opioid of the masses— and a really BAD HABIT.
And…right about now you want to take a fork to my face. But listen, I know that from experience!
It was my bad habit too. My default setting. I was so fucking vigilant and valiant in my suffering—I would have made ya proud.
OMFG, do I have bad habits!
I chew my cuticles until they bleed, I dispense unsolicited advice, I say the word fuck before breakfast more than Richard Pryor did in his entire career, and at certain points in my life I have fallen into the habit of pessimism—and I’m oversimplifying the depth of my angst by using that word. Call it depression, call it anxiety, call it a four-years-long bad mood—NEVER have any of my other bad habits tried to systematically dismantle my soul day in and day out—like that fucker did.
From the moment I woke up until the moment I closed my eyes and even those hours in between when human beings are supposed to be asleep, I could ONLY see what was going wrong and how unfair, unjust, and just plain awful my existence had become.
Can you say Shit. Show?
So, I get it.
You guys, I don’t pretend to know how any of this works, this perpetual darkness thing, what I DO know is that eventually, I hated feeling so damn bad–it was exhausting, like breathing water—and I wanted a way out.
I drank excessively, I ate too much, I meditated, I exercised fanatically, I chanted, I cut my own bangs and I Ommmm’d my ass into submission, seeking and searching. Like a five-pack-a-day smoker, I sought a patch, something to slap on my arm to numb my addiction to feeling bad.
But this was what kept showing up:
Practice gratitude, I read somewhere.
List five things a day you’re grateful for.
I can’t fucking think of one!
Keep a gratitude journal Oprah advised.
Fuck off Oprah! Gratitude, shmatitude! What do you know about suffering? YOU were born into extreme poverty—in the deep South—in the 1950’s and were repeatedly abused.
I have REAL problems!
But it wore me down. So, I tried it. But just for a minute because it sounded asinine and completely counterintuitive, and here’s the thing: when you let even just a glimmer of gratitude in, like ‘I’m grateful my dog’s not a puppy anymore, she was such an asshole—more things to be grateful for will rush in to meet it.
Will they really?… No.
They were there all along, you’ll just start seeing them with your fizzy new eyes. The ugly graffiti (not the beautiful, artsy kind) of cynicism can deface the most beautiful building, but that doesn’t mean the gorgeous architecture doesn’t lie just beneath the surface—it’s just hidden—temporarily.
Have I made gratitude a new habit? Why, yes!…hell no.
I promise myself that I’ll try every day, but that’s like saying I’ll make it a habit to wear anything other than yoga pants—highly unlikely—but I’ll try.
So it’s worth writing about when I can maintain it for an entire day. Wanna join me?
There’s safety in numbers andIt’s free.