Gratitude

Gratitude

The basement of my house is my favorite writing space even though It’s not always the most comfortable. It’s cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and I share it with the spiders who can’t seem to stay away. Artificial light doesn’t do well in the basement, the illumination from bulbs only penetrate so far, giving the room a timeless quality that can play tricks on an overactive imagination, especially when I’m facing an empty page that I can’t seem to fill. I sit in the circle of light, looking out into the semi-darkness and it’s easy to envision a grandmother down here filling shelves with jars of homemade preserves or kids playing hide and seek while the rest of the family is upstairs gathered around a huge transistor radio.

So, more often than not, I turn out the lights when I’m working so the only illumination is from the monitor with the empty page I’m trying to fill. Sometimes the words are there and sometimes they aren’t, like the ten times I sat down to write this post about gratitude. I took walks to think about it, I spoke with a friend about it, I read my favorite books to inspire me, but the grand and eloquent words I wanted to use to express my profound thanks at the many blessings I had been given proved elusive.

So, I sat and let my mind wander, and soon I noticed the sounds.

Water running through pipes.

The rumble of the clothes dryer.

Thump, thumping of my daughter dancing upstairs.

I refocused and tried to concentrate. I have many things to be thankful for and I didn’t want this to be an ordinary post. I wanted the reader to feel the profound feelings that I felt. It needed to be special. But try as I might, the words failed me again and before very long I turned away from the screen and let my mind wander again.

Sounds.

Water running through pipes.

The rumble of the clothes dryer.

Thump, thumping of my daughter dancing upstairs.

I gathered my thoughts and refocused (again) and began to write. About thirty minutes and a frustrating page and a half later, I stopped to read what I’d produced.

Garbage. It was forced and not at all genuine. I was trying way too hard. I deleted the whole thing and leaned back in my chair.

Sounds again, or rather, only one sound. There was no water running and the dryer had completed its cycle.

Thump, thumping of my daughter dancing.

Then the thumping stopped and I heard footsteps running through the kitchen then down the stairs and into the basement where the empty page and I kept each other company.

“Look at this Dad,” she said.

I spend the next ten minutes watching her proudly show me the progress she’d made on the move she was practicing upstairs and discussing the difficulties of handstands and bridges and back walkovers. When she was done, she hugged me and ran back upstairs. In a moment, the thump thumping began again as she’s started to practice the next move.

As I listen to her dance, I realize that I’ve been going about this all wrong. I was like a bull in a china shop, stomping around and looking outwardly for the thing I only needed to be still to find. I would have heard it, the thump, thump, thumping that means that my daughter is dancing. As long as she is dancing everything is fine.

Gratitude.

I am thankful for many things. For health and strength, for Sunshine in the morning, for you reading his post.

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