If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, you already know that I’ll be setting monthly themes to my blogs and other writing.
I made a list of words that seem to hold some sort of meaning as I think about the year ahead. Words that resonate, that give me a little bit of a buzz of curiosity. Words that seem to be that gateway to more words.
I will pick one or two of these words to use as a monthly theme. I’ll let these words infuse into my blog posts—I’ll think of them as a lens to influence my writing.
I also said I’d use these words as freewriting prompts and post what I write. Here is the first one (which I’ll also post to my Facebook page): what do the words “gratitude” and “appreciation” mean?
Here’s what I wrote in 15 minutes of free-writing by hand, very minimally edited:
This month I have as a theme gratitude and appreciation. What do those words mean? Why do I choose them? This time of year seems all about reflection and looking forward. And that’s fine but do we think about the now? For my mind, this is hard because I’m always analyzing how things could be better or if not better, then different. Or I churn over past words and deeds, rewriting or wishing I could rewrite. I can’t do anything about the past or really about the future, not in any concrete way. What I can do is make sure what I’m doing in any given moment is done with intent and integrity, in alignment with who I am and want to be, with appreciation that I have that I have this moment. With gratitude not just for a sunset or a smile but also for being human. Not in a way that makes me deny feeling down or that makes me a Polly Anna in some way. But in an appreciation – maybe an acknowledgement is all I can muster at times – for the present moment I’m in. It’s also a gratitude and appreciation for all the moments until this one, that those moments define a life, and there may be some regret or to wish differently, but they still fill up the vessel we call a life or a soul or an entity, and the pain as well as the joy create the complexities that allow me to sit here and write. This exercise is hard in the throes of a depressive episode, how can I find anything to be grateful for, and this is when if the mind cannot handle philosophical introspection over the amazing ability to be human, it can hopefully acknowledge that the sunset is pretty. That a parent loves me. That I’d be missed. That I am missed. That I have a roof over my head. That my body knows how to beat its heart and inflate its lungs and connect its neurons (even in ways I wish it wouldn’t) but all of this is my life and isn’t it a wonder any of us are even here? And how our differences melt away and we see how little anything matters except for our ability and insistence upon being alive. Our bodies are built to be alive. Not to make money, not to harm, not to put down, but to eat and sleep and make love and tell stories and nurture through touch and be resilient in the face of pain and suffering. What gives us gratitude can give us misplaced entitlement but only if we take the gratitude out of the present and into the future. But in the present, it can save us all.
And now, your turn! Set a timer, or fill up a page. Or just ponder and absorb what you’ve thought as a form of meditation. Ask a friend what they think. Share what you’re comfortable sharing!