Ok, so like every other one of my #20toX blog series, I’ve fallen behind. How far, you ask? Well, thank you for asking. I really appreciate your concern. The truth is, the blog challenge is supposed to be over by Saturday night. It’s supposed to be 20 TO 40, not 20 while I’m both 39 and 40. So I’m left with a bit of a conundrum. 8 posts. Two days. How to do this? Well, I could bail. That’s always been an option to me, and it’s one that I’ve been more than willing to take when things got more than a little bit uncomfortable. Thing is, I’ve really enjoyed this gratitudes series. I think it’s important to recognize the things I appreciate so I don’t get caught in negativity spirals. Or, I could cut it down to 2 more gratitudes. Those two are incredibly obvious, if you’ve been paying attention. If you haven’t, well, maybe you should search this site for 20to40 and figure it out. That thought is more than a little tempting to me. I have a lot to say about the two people who are the last low-hanging fruit on the list. Or. and I’m guessing you know that this is the way I’m going to go because I’ve left it for last. Yes, that’s right. Two posts. But eight gratitudes spread out over those two posts. Because I’ve got a thought about those six gratitudes, and the idea of banging them out here, with you, on a Thursday night/Friday morning, with the grainy feeling just starting behind my eyes, is filling me with some inspiration.
So, here they are, the best of the rest. I’m going to avoid individual people in this post, so some of these things might seem a little esoteric or a little (or more) out there. Bear with me. Or don’t. I’m sure there’s more Instagram pictures in your feed now than there were when you started reading this. But without any further ado, here is:
20 to 40 Gratitude Part 13: My Body
It’s beyond obvious to say that, without my body, I wouldn’t even be here. But my appreciation for my body goes far beyond just my presence. Here’s why:
I am the king of bad decisions when it comes to exercise. Kim’ll tell you, I never ease into anything. If I’m going to run, I’m going to go from sitting on the couch seven days a week to 10k runs on a whim. Not a good idea, right? And as I get older, I’m going to seriously have to start thinking about maybe planning these things out better.
I occasionally like to help people move. Or, you know, there is the odd time that a couch has to go from here to there, or a tree needs to be pulled out of the way or something.
And don’t even get me started on sports. Or do get me started on sports. That sounds like fun. So much fun that I’ll go from a complete stop to a full-out sprint down the field/gym/tennis court with no warning.
Yes, I’ve had my share (and probably more) of injuries. A hernia operation has taught me that, while I can probably lift it, it’s not always the best idea to try. And yes, my knees have been known to fill with fluid if I’m less than smart about what I do to recover from punishing them in whatever way I deem appropriate.
But what it boils down to is, my slacker fitness level is high enough so that I don’t pay an extremely high toll to get back in the game. And I really appreciate that.
20 to 40 Gratitude Part 14: My Mind
Sure, this one is a little bit obvious. I mean, I went with body, how could I not go with mind? I’ll accept that criticism, but you have to also accept that this appreciation is as genuine as any other on this list.
Between the years 1994 and 1997, I worked a number of so-called brain-dead jobs. I packaged bleach, I worked an oilfield pipeyard, unloaded uncounted trucks, cut leather, baked donuts, and that’s just some of it. The point is, after high school, I ran from the idea of academics and intellect, hiding from it in a world where I was paid for the strength of my back.
Something, some dissatisfaction, some part of me that cried out against imbalance, drew me, first to writing, then to programming. And hey, guess what. Despite my slightly less-than-average achievements in high school, it turned out that my mind was suited to academics. Don’t let my grade-point average fool you. (Not that I’ll tell it to you.) I learned a whole pile of things in University. It’s funny how little of programming that I use in my job I learned there, but so many critical thinking skills, logic, problem-solving, I soaked it in when I was down south, and, low grades or no, I got what I wanted out of my time in post-secondary, and it’s far more than just that piece of paper I’ve never quite managed to hang on the wall.
The fact is, my mind is the reason I was able to buy a home. It’s been the instrument I’ve used to make my living for more than thirteen years, and, along with all the other wonderful things my mind has for me, including story ideas, mid-nineties NFL quarterbacks, basically the entirety of the Wheel of Time series, I can’t rightly say how much I appreciate my mind.
20 to 40 Gratitude Part 15: My Roommates
Edmonton and Lethbridge, I’ve had my share of roommates. No, I don’t mean you, James. You’re a roommate in a totally different way. Jake, Sean, Daryl, Brad, Dylan, the Surbers. All of them put up with my habits, my tics, my musical choices, my odd hours, my less-than-stellar track record for picking up after myself, and the creaking of my omnipresent wicker chair. Thank you all for the gift of your company, your friendship, your forbearance, and, in a couple of occasions, your family and your home. Though my heart was not always wholly with me (usually, it was in Leduc), you all made it a little easier to bear.
20 to 40 Gratitude Part 16: Music
What can I say about music that you don’t already know? I grew up with music. There’s a soundtrack to my life, and at any time, a song can start up, and I’m rewound to a different scene in my life, just whisked away there in my mind, usually back to my parents’ house in Leduc, or the bleach factory, or Lethbridge. There are so many memories tinged with nostalgia that all tie back to music. The song, the one song I can’t seem to remember for the life of me, that my mom used to practice at the piano while I sat beside her because I couldn’t fall asleep and I was keeping my brother awake. God, how that infuriates me, the one time my memory fails me. Fur Elise, and how Lily hammered away on that song to perfect it for her recital in December, while I worked at the desk on the other side of the room. I’m sure that song will pull me back into this very room, poof, just like magic.
I won’t necessarily always remember where the music took me, when I get older, and my faculties start to fade, but the music will be there.
20 to 40 Gratitude Part 17: Books
If I haven’t made it clear yet, I’ll try again. I wasn’t what you would call popular back in the day. I had some friends, usually Rob, and I had some activities, but from the time I read The Magician’s Nephew by CS Lewis, The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander, and The Source of Magic by Piers Anthony, my course was set. Now, I have friends. I have more activities than I have time for. I have a million little distractions through my days that seem to conspire to rob me of any free time, but I am true to my course. I still read as much as I can, and my love affair with books in general, and two of those three books in particular, remains undimmed.
20 to 40 Gratitude Part 18: My Village
Family, extended and otherwise, friends, acquaintances, social media connections. I’m not going to lie. I am a very rough slab of granite. I mean to say that I have a lot to learn and some very rough edges to smooth out. If I’m a work in progress, let’s just say that I’m still early in the process. But through my earnest desire to improve, and the sometimes less-than-subtle efforts of My Village, I’d say I’m coming around. Social issues, parenting, feminism (which is starting to feel like it shouldn’t even be a term, just the way that people are), privilege, labeling - both good and bad - I’m learning.
I won’t pretend that I understand why some things are more right than others, but I’ve learned to trust people who have been there. I’ve learned that when something someone says makes me feel bad, it’s more likely to be because, oh shit, I’ve been doing that or, oh shit, I haven’t been preventing that, rather than the idea that someone is lying to make me feel bad.
I know that I’ve got it good. Probably just about as good as it gets. I have food, a house, money, influence, and all the privilege of a white boy in Canada. Which, by the way, should be a saying. But I understand that I have it as good as I have it because of people who help me to be accountable, who are probably more patient than I have a right to expect.
I appreciate all of you, even (and maybe especially) when I feel like an idiot. Life’s a process, and when I finally feel like I’ve got it all figured out, I’m guessing that’ll be the time when I have to look a little harder.