Friday, August 26, 2011

The Repentant Ingrate

I've always loved, and frequently told, the classic story of the doting grandmother who takes her small grandson to the beach. She'd bought him a little sailor suit for the occasion, and as they were enjoying themselves by the water's edge, a huge wave swept in, picked up the boy, and carried him out to sea. The grandmother, of course, was beside herself with fear and concern for her darling little boy. Finally, she fell on her knees, raised her arms and eyes to heaven, imploring God to save the boy. And as she did so, another wave swept in and deposited the boy at her feet.

Grabbing him to her, she covered him with kisses. Then she stopped, held him at arm's length, and looked up at the sky, scowling.

"He had a hat!" she said.

I too frequently remind myself of that grandmother. I go back over my blogs and so many of them dwell on the things (and people) I no longer have, the things I can no longer do, and I am ashamed of myself for my ingratitude. I spend so much time bewailing all the thing I want and/or feel were taken from me that I all but ignore the things I do have.

Tongue cancer did terrible things to my body. Cancer does terrible things to a lot of people, and many of them do not live to complain about it. I'm alive when I could, so easily, have been dead. I bitch and moan about how much I hate growing old, and give no thought to the untold billions of people who never had the chance to grow old. All I need to do is wander through a cemetery reading the tombstones of those who died while younger than I am now. My dad was only 57 when he died; my mom only 62. I've lived 20 years (!) longer than my dad, 17 more than my mom. What would they have given to have had those extra years? How dare I complain about growing older?

I am blessed to live in a world of words, which I love, and which bring me indescribable joy. I write books and blogs and journals, and can easily transport myself into the word-worlds of my mind. If I do not like reality...which as you know, I don't...I can create my own.

I spent a month in Europe this year...thanks only to my dear friend Norm, who died last year and who should have lived long enough to spend his money on himself. Next year I'm taking a 15-day river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. This isn't bragging (it's not my money I'm spending. I didn't earn it, and it could be argued I don't deserve it)'s an expression of complete awe. I'm doing these things...things that so very many people would love to do but, for one reason or another, cannot! Me! Self-deprecating, low-self-esteem, constantly-complaining me. Dear Lord!

I am blessed, too, with family and friends...and even though time takes its toll and there are fewer and fewer with each passing year, they provide an island of comfort and support above life's raging waters. Some of my friends are people I have never met face to face but who I still consider friends nonetheless. And I have you, who are reading these words. I am infinitely blessed to have you.

So, please don't let me fool you. The next time frustration leads me to write something less than Disneyesque, or that sounds a bit more like a dirge than a march, please keep in mind that I am indescribably grateful for the all the gifts of my life and that, while I tend to dwell upon the past, I look forward to every tomorrow.

It all boils down to one of my basic mantras, of which I fear I occasionally lose track: "One tomorrow is worth 10,000 yesterdays." Please, when considering the problems of your own life, feel free to make it your mantra, too.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back. And please take a moment to check out for information on Dorien's  Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs.

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