Friday, August 12, 2011


We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all. ~William Faulkner

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. ~G.K. Chesterton

Today, I made some final travel arrangements for a very special holiday--I will be spending five days on a kayak expedition around the San Juan Islands in Washington and then land a few days after that in Port Townsend, WA, to decompress, before flying back to start the fall semester teaching again at the University of California, Merced. This trip will have to act as a kind of rehab for the recent tumult of spirit--as it felt like what happened was a kind of love addiction bottom.

The thing is, 5 years ago, I was so sick, I didn't think I could do anything--and the idea of kayaking for five days, let alone one, was beyond my imagination. So, this morning, as I was calling the last of the hotels where I'm staying after my trip, and phoning Sea Quest, the expedition company, and even now as I report the advent of this adventure, I find myself near tears. 6 years ago--I should've been dead. 5 years ago, I had another wake-up call, and then this summer, I battled with a dark depression that threatened to take me out. Grateful? I'll say.

Today, also, I handed a thank you card to X-man. I owed him some money from a trip we took to Arcata earlier in the summer and I had to return his house key. The thank you was for floating me the loan for the trip for the summer. The card, check, and key were all in an envelope ready to take to the post office, but I happened to run into him this morning, so I handed it to him in person and apologized for taking so long to get the key back to him. I felt honestly that I wished him well, as I had signed the card, and I felt grateful that I could have a conversation with him and feel calm in my heart and hold my own strength.

Certain things are considered to become addictions when we become powerless over them--some may think we make a substance or a person a substitute for a higher power and when we do this with a finite thing--we'll never actually be full of what we need. This is why many recovery programs urge a spiritual solution to addiction, so people with addictions can find an infinite source of power as a substitute for the thing/substance/behavior that was crippling them.

I felt that source with me today as I packed my bags for the trip, as I bought my first digital camera, as I booked a hotel room with a jacuzzi, as I imagined climbing in my first kayak and floating out to sea with 8 other adventurers next Monday morning. I felt that source--God--with me today--as I handed this man I'd spent some time with and then ached over losing, a thank you card.

I am thanking God. I am grateful for the willingness to be changed. I'm grateful for the miracle of my life, that I am alive, that I have survived a few different life-threatening diagnoses. I'm grateful for shoes, a full belly, my fists, my wonderful opposable thumbs. I'm grateful for friends, for holidays, for work, for second chances. I'm grateful for you, dear readers. I can't wait to share stories from the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca with you. I'm grateful to X-man for catalyzing my no's into yeses.

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