Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Attitude with Gratitude

I complain about stuff.  A lot.  Loudly.
I am the poster child for "White People Problems" or "First World Problems."
Some of it is just my shtick.
Some of it is actual anxiety taking the form of humorous venting.
Some of it is the impoverishment of my soul because I have never known the daily struggle of survival that so many others of this world have.
But I keep things in perspective (as much as a white middle-class person with first world problems can) by listening to the BBC radio every morning.

One of the recent broadcasts I listened to was about used pacemakers in India.  The interviewer asked a recipient of one of these pacemakers whether he thought there were ethical issues about using a pacemaker when someone in the US or Europe would use a brand-new one.  His reply was simple:  "I cannot afford a new one, and a used one saved my life so I am happy to have the used one."

I try mightily to live a similar ethos to this man although for me it is 99.9% choosing to live simply as opposed to not having the option to live otherwise.

This time of year, with the "happy" story of pilgrims and indians being only a snippet of the disease and mayhem associated with the colonization of America and the continued trampling of Thanksgiving (with all its flaws) in favor of the shopping ecstasy of Christmas, I have a difficult time reconciling myself to the "way of the world."  To the haves and the have nots.  To the fact that I am one of the haves.  To the fact that I so much love the security of saving money that I am terrible about making charitable donations.

Jesus and Freud would both have a field day with me.

I struggle, to say the least.

If there is anything about which I am thankful regarding my OCD it is how that repetitive wheel of thought can be a good thing, especially when it is an internal wheel of gratitude.  Though I do vent, there seems to be a relatively quick link between the moment a venting/griping/bitchy word crosses my mind and the immediate moment after when a sentiment of gratitude follows.

No one needs to remind me of the things for which I should be thankful.  From the instant a thought enters my mind, I've had the gratitude loop follow it. I just feel better venting my frustration.

Still, even though I acknowledge my luckiness, I think it is nearly impossible to really and truly, within the depths of my heart, feel gratitude because that requires loss.  I can say I am thankful (which I am).  I can think that I am so deeply lucky and blessed (which I am).  But those deeper levels, the existential understanding of gratitude, the kind that suffers loss of the Jean ValJean variety as so many people in the world suffer today, right now, this instant.  That I do not know.


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