Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thoughts on Thank Yous

Today as I lapped around Como Lake on my Sunday afternoon jog, I found myself reflecting on a segment I saw on CBS Sunday Morning, the lost art of hand written thank-yous. The journalist interviewed a man who decided to start writing thank you cards to everyone for whom he held appreciations: he thanked his child's piano teacher, his clients for payment, and the barista at Starbucks for remembering his name. His statement was that a simple show of appreciation brings brought more positive energy to his life in general, and the things for which he was thankful began to flourish all around him.

I realized how rare a thought this might be in our society today. We are so focused on what we don't have, or what we can't do, that we so often fail to remember what we do have and what we can do. As is often the case, I immediately thanked the Universe for my body, which rarely refuses to do what I ask of it, and my mother for instilling the values of good health and the tools to make healthy decisions. This thank you was a little ironic today, as I literally had to drag myself out of the house to do the run! I then thanked Mother Nature for the absolutely beautiful day She blessed St. Paul with, and I thanked the City of Saint Paul for maintaining the path around Como Lake so we may enjoy it during the throes of winter.

As I rounded the second lap, I noticed the American flag flying high next to the cafe on the park and immediately was thankful to live in America, where I can come and go from my home freely without danger of looters, go to the grocery store and have a selection of foods inconceivable in some parts of the world, and hold whatever spiritual beliefs I choose and not be persecuted. Flawed as America may be, she is certainly worth the gratitude of all her citizens.

The more I reflected, the longer the list of thanks became. I am grateful for a steady income, a working vehicle, and a home I can call my own. I realized how abundant my life is, and how easily I fall into the trap of whining over what I don't have, or what I don't do well, or what I could do better. Instead, I need to practice focusing my energy on gratitude for what I have and put loving intention into all I do. Clearly this is something to practice, and on some days, it may not be perfect. But I need to try.

Thank you for your time to read this blog. I hope you are now thinking of the things for which you are grateful.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thoughts on My Lost Writer

Earlier this afternoon, my mother and I were browsing a big box book store. When we came upon the blank books, I made an offhand comment about how I wished I was still writing so I would have an excuse to purchase a new blank book. She looked at me, eyebrows raised, and said, "You mean you don't write anymore?" I told her not really, that I hammer out the occasional blog but haven't put in the effort I once did.

Later on, as I made the drive from Duluth to St. Paul, I came upon the show Talking Volumes on public radio. The interviewee was an author I'd never heard of, but I nonetheless found myself absorbed in her comments about writing fiction. So often, she said, she didn't know who a character would become, and equally as often entire novels began with simply writing about a basic interaction between two or more people she would witness on a walk or during some mundane trip of daily life in public. This made me think of my own writing, of how lines of poetry once marched through my mind for days before I'd write them down, weave a context for them, and sometimes erase them completely around the verses they inspired. I thought of how I have somewhere between ten and twenty notebooks floating around the house, each a garden of writing filled with poetic weeds with the occasional blooming rose bush shining in unlikely pages. How the writer in me has become a lost friend, the kind of friend you might wonder about at the last moments before a deep sleep or upon hearing an old song on the radio. How sometimes I call her up by means of this blog, and we write for a little while but then she disappears again into the mist of my imagination, unseen until something like a public radio show calls her back.

My last journal entry was May 10, 2010, and so much has changed in my life since then. Where has the lost writer been through family turmoil, love, pets, and accomplishments? Should I coax her out? Am I afraid of the statement that I am a writer, therefore, I must write? And if I don't coax her out, will I forever remain wondering "What if?" like a timid boy abandoning his true love out of fear, only to live a life of regret?

It must find its correct place in my life, and if it belongs, it will stay. Maybe the lost writer leaves for so long of a time because she doesn't feel welcome, like my mind is so occupied with other things and activities that I won't allow her to dance, and so she stays still. Either way, she is visiting now. I shall have to ask her.