Wednesday, November 25, 2015

the practice of gratitude

i got a shock the other morning.  when i woke at my usual 6:00 am time i knew, in the marrow of my bones, that i am smack dab in the middle of my life.  i won't get another start at life.  for how many lives are we allowed?  only one.  and know, thru no fault of my own, i am middle-aged.

i know how old i am.  i know the year i was born.  the chronological years is not the shock.  it is the very essence of my being that i feel still so young and that everything is at the beginning.  but life tells me no.  i am not at the beginning.  i am at the middle.  time used to be a vast field.  now time is narrowing to a sharp point.

and yet, instead of filling me with dread i felt a huge measure of joy.  because we only get our one life.  and life is so fucking precious is beyond accounting in words.  because my time is limited i need to change my attitude toward time.  i must practice gratitude for my life.

my joy manifested in my knowing that i am a finite creature.  i will only be here for a few more decades.  my soul may feel young but i know i am not young.  i know, for certain, and not as an abstraction, i will sooner or later cease to be.  since i am an atheist i believe when i die i will cease to exist.

that portion of the deal doesn't bother me.  how i choose to live does matter.  again, it is up to me to adjust my attitudes and my thinking toward the ephemeral and death.  therefore, i choose to practice gratitude.

i think poetry, the reading and writing of it, is part of my practice.  poetry is as natural as taking a shit, having sex, smelling the eucalyptus trees on the cool breeze.  sensual pleasure proves we are alive.  poetry is an erotic pleasure.

poetry is many things as well.  anger, disgust, a call to change society, are part of poetry too.  but it is by poetry i fall in love with the world, again and again.

my practice includes knowing how fortunate i am to have anna, nick, my brothers, my father, my mother, my friends, my family, my house, my books.  this is not an exhaustive list.  there are days when depression rears its ugly black head and all i can do is try to look past the blinders placed on me.

even still, i experience profound joy with all that surrounds me.  particularly late at night when i close the book, or shut down the computer, and then go thru the house turning off the lights.  the very structure of our house brings me right in to the present.  on such a night, i know anna and nick are safe in bed.  the city outside our walls is going on its mad ways.  the world too.  and here i am, middle-aged, the sad, wizened fool of sac, grateful for being in it.

happy thanksgiving, brothers and sisters


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