Gratitude is hard for me. It is hard because I wake up with expectations. But I shouldn’t take my life for granted: sentient existence is a gift. Billions of years of evolution and a series of highly-improbable random events resulted in me being here this precise moment and in my body functioning against all odds to keep me alive. I’m better off than most. There is much for me to be personally grateful for.
When I was very young I made a list of what I wanted to do in life. I read the list again recently. I didn’t achieve many of those things, and that’s fine. I was never a particularly ambitious person. I’m grateful for this life because I got more than I ever deserved. And my life is what someone else might’ve wanted.
Being privileged is having affluent problems, while millions of people don’t have access to sanitation, safe drinking water, medicines for curable diseases, reliable utilities, and basic education. My aggravations resulting from deviations from my expectations cloud my judgment.
I am grateful for the people who make things happen in the shadows, because things don’t just happen. There is a vast machinery that uses energy just to maintain the status quo. If I left my home for a few days, it would be in a state of disrepair. If I went away for a year, wild animals and plants would take over.
I am grateful for the good people I have known. They were not perfect, they were human. But they tried to be better every day. I am grateful for the time I spent with them in this short life.
I’m grateful for the days at work wishing I was somewhere other than at work.
I am grateful for freedom of thought and movement, and express my thanks for those who fought and died to uphold these values. We must always protect the right to participate in minor acts of heroism or defiance on a daily basis, and not take it for granted.
I am grateful for the sacrifices of women, many of whom were never truly appreciated.
I am grateful for the light and the sound. For the sunrises and the starscapes. For the yawn of a cat and the wet tongue of a dog. For the love and patience I have received from others. For microbiology. For agriculture. For the poets and songwriters who put my thoughts in their own words. For history. For my teachers, human and nonhuman. For Yaman. For Tagore. For Messi.
I am grateful for children. May they infect us with their optimism and curiosity to the end of our days.
I am grateful for the ability to think and to feel. To look with wonder at the stars and at the teeming life in a drop of water. To love, and to smile, and to suffer, because after all that is what connects me with the rest of humanity. I am grateful to those who just let me be.