Sunday, January 4, 2009

Gratitude

I don't really do New Year's resolutions any more, due to (a) my own repeated failure to comply with the ones I felt were self-punitive and (b) my tendency to obviate all the less punitive ones by doing them anyway, upon the moment they occurred to me, instead of waiting until the New Year to implement them.

I do, however, use the New Year as an occasion to think about my progress over the last twelve months (if any) and my intentions for the next twelve.

This year a number of friends and acquaintances have positively humbled me with the things they've done for others.

I've learned about the science fiction community's ethos of paying forward. I've been welcomed by that community, along with a number of my peers, and blessed with everything from distilled knowledge to good humour to medical texts to a warm embrace against a chilly wind.

I've watched my best friend vow, in memory of my own father, to avoid taking lives in her home, and instead transport bees and flies outdoors.

I've witnessed the generous spirit of my mother's small town, helping her out with everything from lawn care to baked goods, and I've witnessed their astonishing tribute to my father, as every member of the Fire Department passed before his coffin and offered their salute.

And I've witnessed my father's own generous spirit, as he found loving and wise things to say to me in the last days of his life: to me, the one he'd always found contrary and frustrating. He took care that his last words to me should be "I love you."

I've been loved by my little cat, too: with every ounce of her being, for every day she was with me. All I did in exchange for that love was to keep the food dish filled and make some space on my pillow.

That's a lot to pay forward. I could spend the rest of my life trying, and never be done. But I have some things to give. I'm not living on instant coffee and stale pie, not for some years now. I don't think I've been selfish with my resources in the past--I hope not--but I can do better, and I must, and I will.

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