I think a lot about how ridiculously, absurdly, over-the-top lucky I am. Sure, some of my blessings are things I’ve “earned” with hard work or good decisions, but the overwhelming majority are things that I simply, somehow, get to have. I could take an entire book of blank pages and fill it with nothing but a list of the wonders that I’ve apparently received by default, that no amount of gratitude can ever compensate.
There’s the big stuff, the stuff that leaps immediately to mind: Evan, Betsy, my parents, the rest of my family, my friends. Clean water, clean air, plenty of food, good health, enough money to cover all necessities and lots of not-necessaries. Being able to read and write and figure out 7 times 30. Having a house. Not getting shot or stabbed or executed or bombed, or arrested for no reason. Endless, unconditional love. Being surrounded by people who believe in God and love me even though I don’t. Not being addicted to heroin. Having a purpose. Experiencing joy.
There’s the small(er) stuff, that still feels big: Having about a million books on beautiful bookshelves with bookends shaped like dragons. The existence of Little Miss Sunshine and Babylon 5 and The Lord of the Rings and “The Second Coming” by W. B. Yeats and “I Ship It” by Not Literally. Hot coffee. Cold coffee. The fact that controlling my own fingers is genuinely telekinesis, and talking to people is genuinely telepathy. The ability to write these words and give them to you, and your ability to read them or not, as you decide. The words sockdolager and brandish and sesquipedalian. Dover Castle, the cliffs of Dover, and the poem “Dover Beach.” Graham’s number. Guinness beer.
And then there’s the in-between stuff, that’s slightly less obvious but no less utterly incredible. The fact that I don’t have (symptoms of) depression, and the pills responsible have virtually no side effects. The fact that I have never, not once, not once, encountered any stigma for having mental illness. The fact that I don’t even think of “mental illness” as a bad thing, aside from, you know, it sucks to have it. The sheer existence of libraries, and Google, and Wikipedia. The fact that copyediting — which is literally mostly just reading stuff carefully — is somehow a job that you can get paid for.
All of that. All of that is just page one of the entire book I could fill with this stuff.
The literary half of my brain knows that this post is a cliche, and a bit on the sappy side, but there are worse things to be.
I’m still lucky.