G is for Gratitude

Fall is in the air, and as much as I love the changing seasons it is still not easy to head into autumn and come up on the anniversary of my diagnosis. I “stay positive” about 90 percent of the time, but the remaining 10 percent is filled with fear, grief, worry, anxiety, anger, irritation, confusion, and pure old-fashioned terror.

It’s hard to find the light–to stay smiling–in the hard moments. Isn’t that the point? That is where the test lies. It’s easy to stay happy when things are good—clean scan, healthy kids, a great evening laughing with friends–but when coffee spills on your lap, the kids complain and whine, your friend cancels a date your were excited about, the bloodwork isn’t what you anticipated—that is when you dig deep. I used to scream, rage, yell into pillows. But my new strategy is gratitude. Not to sound too New Age-y, but turns out being thankful actually works!

Yes, I was always a fairly grateful person and yes, I heard (and repeated) the word gratitude for years in my daily yoga class. But now I live it. I try my very hardest to take a breath and just say thank you (instead of expressing something else that is close to the surface, and unprintable on this blog). This poem, by the insanely talented American poet W.S. Merwin, always brings me back (and brings me to tears).

I am saying thank you.


with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is
– W.S. Merwin

3 responses to “G is for Gratitude”

  1. Wow, very well written. So close to what I also have been trying to do this year….see the good in every day, every moment and not concentrate on the bad. I am noticing a peace that is coming over me rather than the other. Thanks for the reminder to see the positive and to be thankful for all that I have.

  2. tara riley says:

    Beautiful reminder. Thank you for reminding me of Merwin’s talent, also.

  3. Vincent Bonner says:

    Supporting my daughter for over 6 years and she is happy for me to see positive impact that you were given to being grateful it’s a wonderful gift I love your writing hopefully I will be able to get your book may God continue to keep and bless you for you are a blessing to others on behalf of my daughter Kimberly Robinson we thank you and keep you in our prayers

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