Gratitude

gratitude [grat-i-tood, -tyood]
noun
1.
the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful:
He expressed his gratitude to everyone on the staff.
Source

The word has become quite popular of late; I stopped counting the number of Twitter handles that include the word at 36 as I could see there were scads more. Likewise for blog and domain names. Being thankful is a good thing; it may reduce anger and hopelessness, and keep us humble. Yet I have my issues around the word. They weren’t part of my review of Gratitude and Trust by Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson as I wanted to focus on the quality of the book’s content. A ‘must-read’ btw.

Certainly in a ‘big picture’ sense I am grateful. I was an out and proud gay man in Toronto in the 80s and 90s who remains uninfected, I survived being mugged in Toronto and a serious car accident in November of 2000 (18 day hospital stay with mutliple surgeries). I am grateful.

However on a day-to-day basis it is a struggle; I am broke, under-employed and fighting foreclosure. Going to a movie theatre or live performance is beyond my resources, much less going back to Toronto for World Pride last month. My health is not terrible but there are aches and pains. Which of course leads to self-recrimination; so many of the people I knew in Toronto 30 years ago passed long before gout or arthritis could become an annoyance.

And then there’s that whole not wanting to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ attitude of mine.

At the same time, I have an almost visceral response to “being grateful” that seems to stem from a few different sources. First is the far-too-common use of ‘just be grateful for what you have’ in religion, employment and politics as tools to control we, the people. No upsetting the proverbial applecart. Accept your place. There was a time we gay folk were advised to be grateful for whatever crumbs society deigned to permit us. Back when we protested for non-discrimination legislation and the concept of ‘same-sex marriage’ wasn’t a pipe dream, it was a non-existent concept. And when it did become at least a dream there were many who said the time ‘wasn’t right’ to push. Since there is still no national employment non-discrimination protection in the US, perhaps their fears were not without some foundation. Fortunately some souls decided to ignore the nay-sayers. While full marriage equality has yet to arrive in the US of A, it is no longer a pipe dream.

However, I am learning to limit the hold my past has on me, while not forgetting valuable lessons. And so I move forward – in gratitude.

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