Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In Celebration

There was another time in my life when I emerged from a period of intense difficulty to find that I had trouble remembering how to be happy again. I never imagined that such hardship would repeat itself, and in a way it didn't; I have a set of tremendous resources, financial, social, and intellectual, that I didn't have then, and come out of my second most serious downturn with a decided advantage compared to what I had at twenty.

Still, this last year has been one in which I've discovered uncomfortable truths about myself and about, well, life. I rode out of my last crisis on a wave of optimism. The knowledge I've acquired since then has made that phenomenon difficult to replicate.

For all the differences that the two periods have, however, some truths remain constant. Then, as the summer of 2008 sweltered and shined, I committed to paper all the things in my life for which I was thankful, not because I believed it or felt it but because I needed to. I did it because that's what you do to remind yourself what you like about being alive.

And so, in honor of my recent twenty-fifth birthday, I'd like to share with you the things that make me grateful. The last time I did that it woke me up. Maybe this time it will, too.

  • I am thankful for the great gifts of talent and intelligence I have been given.
  • I am thankful that I have the kind of sister who would make me the birthday card you saw above. I am thankful she jumps about our house making cat noises, rocking out to both Journey and One Direction, and occasionally dropping some profound nuggets on the unsuspecting adults around her.
  • I am thankful that I work in a field and at a job I love. I am thankful that I am a literary agent, and thankful that what qualms I do have with my profession are within my power to resolve.
  • I am thankful that I have had the financial means to pursue my professional passion, even when that meant interning for free or, now, working for a commission that I have yet to earn.
  • I am thankful that, should I need to start over, I will be able to.
  • I am thankful to have found a part-time job as a reporter, making enough money to cover my expenses without having to sacrifice my dignity. 
  • I am thankful that, in my early twenties, I had the presence of mind to make the academic and professional investments that brought me to this point.
  • I am thankful for the momentary fancy that brought me to publishing; I cannot imagine finding my place and my fiscal security anywhere else.
  • I am thankful that my endeavors have allowed me to live in one of the greatest cities in the world and to see another.  
  • I am thankful that, this time around, I have friends. They have been such a bulwark through all this. I am also thankful that I have had the strength to walk away from friendships, even long-established ones, when they become counterproductive.
  • I am so thankful for recovery. Developing an academic understanding of my complex health problems has been a depressing exercise, if only because it's made me cognizant of some very long odds, but that academic understanding has been my sword and my armor. Twenty-year-old BB is a shadow of twenty-five-year-old BB. Twenty-year-old BB could never have done the things that twenty-five-year-old BB can. And damn it, I'm here, aren't I? I'm here.
  • I am thankful that I am twenty-five years old and beautiful.
  • I am thankful that I have come to have a genuine, if conflicted, faith, one that fuels my wonder without compromising my critical thinking.
  • I am thankful, after a fashion, for my cynicism. A part of me still pines after some romantic notions, but my view of the world has become much more guarded and sterilized. That's made a few things easier to handle.
  • I am thankful for the few sizeable paychecks I've been able to bring in through freelance editing. I am thankful that I have no pressing financial hardships, even if I am not yet where I'd like to be. 
  • I am thankful that I stopped loving my father some time ago. He's so much less disappointing now.
  • I am thankful for my improved relationship with my adoptive mother, and for her growing maturity and understanding. Thirty-nine is better than never. 
  • I am thankful for a summer that will, thanks to work, be full of travel to destinations across this country.
  • I am thankful for this blog, for the incredible forum it provides and for the chronicle of my progress it has become with the passing of years. 
  • I am thankful for you, and for some of the very good friends I've made here.
  • I am thankful for an intellectual curiosity that has never been more vital in me than it is now.
  • I am thankful for the young man my brother Thomas is becoming. 
  • I am thankful for my ability to recognize and address my own considerable flaws. 
  • I am thankful that I had so much to put on this list. 

Hopefully this will be a good start. Remember what happened in the few years after I last made one of these? Incredible things. Incredible things.    


Anonymous said...

A very touching post, BB. You do indeed have an impressive list, of which you are very deserving. Your journey over the past 5 years has been profound in many, many ways, and you've turned into a man, so much more than a mere boy of 20. You should be proud of yourself. Keep up the good work, my friend, and life will continue to be wonderful!
Peace <3

jo(e) said...

Ah, beautiful list. I'm thankful for you, BB.

naturgesetz said...

I'm thankful that you have all those good things to write about.

Thanks for sharing your hopes, your struggles, your disappointments , your successes, and your joys with us. I'm full of hope for you.

Jason Shaw said...

This is an amazing post, you've touched on some things that often get overlooking in thinking of what to be thankful for, yet are the most intrinsic parts of life and fulfilment. This post is a wonderful testament to how far you've come, and how far you've yet to go, I only hope I can continue to come along for the ride.

As always, my best wishes to you.

Arizaphale said...

You've made me wonder about my own 'thankful' list. Cool.

Anonymously Me said...

I'm thankful for you, James.

Sue (Someones Mom) said...

Your list made me happy. I can't believe that I have "watched" you grow up through your blog and how much wisdom you have gained in the past few years. I think that compared to many, your list proves that you have much good in your life and of course, some things that aren't great, but everyone does. Some people just aren't honest about it. You've come a long way...Happy Birthday!