Here are some of the things I took a moment to be thankful for on Thursday -- in no particular order: my son's sense of humor, my daughter's sense of mission, my mother’s high energy and clear-eyed outrage, my father’s sardonic ghost (telling me to cut this short, and keep it funny). I'm thankful for my few good friends, the only people who actaully read this blog.
I'm thankful to struggle through a good paragraph, find the right finish somehow and then watch Annie’s face while she reads it; or praising her work with such surgical precision that she has to believe me. What else? The furry warmth and food obsessed intensity of my bird-chasing pug, my car’s excellent heater and its radio that picks up WFAN and NPR with equal clarity; This American Life, Bob Edwards’ voice, Terry Gross’ laugh, Eddie Bauer sweaters, Jack Bauer sweating while he saves the world (“I need you to leave this building, NOW”), land-line telephones, disposable fountain pens, meat thermometers, four-foot ground swell waves on windless afternoons, Lagavullan scotch, Anna Karenina, Chinatown, La Boheme ,Calvin & Hobbes, Woody Allen when he was funny (“Nice watch, isn’t it? My grandfather, on his deathbed … sold me this watch”), Pinot Noir wine, Sideways (for fixating me on Pinot Noir wine), Winslow Homer watercolors, David Hockney swimming pools, Jim Dine hearts, Rembrandt self-portraits; checks in the mail, just-picked macoun apples , Sentences like “She gave him a look you could pour over a waffle” and “Winston was gelatinous with fatigue”, not to mention pomegranates, unsulfured dried apricots, the internet, disposable paper products and the mid-term elections.
But the most important things to be thankful for are the things that haven’t happened, that we don’t even know about. When something bad happens, a car accident or a mugging, we always think … “If I had just left the house ten minutes earlier … if I hadn’t gone back to answer the phone …” but we don’t consider the other side: all the times we did leave early, or decided to let the machine pick up; all the accidents and calamities that missed us by inches or seconds. Life is a minefield and you can step on one at any time. It’s easy to forget that just avoiding those explosions is something to celebrate. The ghosts of all the dire fates, all the calamitous unfulfilled possibilities, crowd around us like clothes on a line.
So today I’m most grateful for all the narrowly averted tragedies, the near misses I’ll never know: and all the things that didn’t happen, which I’ll never have to regret.