Inevitably, during the month of gratitude, I hit a weird kind of writer's block.
I'm not stranger to regular writer's block; I've been writing for a living for maybe 9 years now, and there have been a decade and a half or so of school assignments that have suffered from that crushing inability to write anything.
This isn't that.
And it's not, quite, that I am struggling to find things to be thankful for. I can look around my surroundings and find half a dozen things within a couple of feet of me for which I'm grateful, either actually or symbolically. My life is full to brimming with blessings.
This is more like — rebellion. And it happens every year. This is when I've had a couple of tough days (all things being relative, of course — my rough days are not so awfully rough) and I can still see all the things for which I should be thankful and I just. Don't. Feel like it.
It feels, inside, exactly like a temper tantrum. I'm cranky and fussy and just don't want to do what I perceive as being asked of me. It's the same feeling that makes a teenager scream "I hate you!" at people she obviously loves. I guess it's ingratitude, but it's a specific kind of frustration and ingratitude that we've all had, all watched unfold in our younger selves or children.
And I think maybe that right there is the point of this whole damn exercise.
I am, and think many people are, pretty good at maintaining a base level of gratitude. I don't always say it out loud, to the people around me, or even to God, but I do often say it out loud. I say "thank you" a lot, all year round. And I am hugely aware of my own blessings, of my own privilege, of the ways those things enrich my life and also could spoil me if I let them.
The trick is to find that gratitude when I don't want to, when things make me tired or mad. That is not why I started this series, but it does feel, right now, very much like why I should keep up with it every single day, rather than playing catch-up when I feel more inclined to.
Day 18 of our month of gratitude: I am thankful. For paper and pens and computers and telephones and my car keys and clothes on my back and heat and tissues and volunteer work and cough drops and friends and eyeglasses and electricity and hair elastics and a relationship with the Divine and television and movies and sports and ... I don't know, all that stuff is kind of magical, right? But today, I am also thankful for being required to remember how thankful I am and should be. When I was a kid at the mall on the verge of a meltdown, my mother would get me an Orange Julius. I am thankful for Orange Julius.