I would buy small, lovely journals and packages of 36 fine-point markers, and each night, in bed, write my list – a different color for each blessing in my life.
The practice has taken different shapes and forms over the years. For the past few, I have done it on my computer, exchanging my list via e-mail with a friend in San Francisco.
So whenever a gratitude list is suggested as a part of any spiritual practice, in my head I tick it off as “Got it.” “Done.” Until yesterday. When I had a *new* experience.
I am in week 2 of Walking in the World, Julia Cameron’s follow up to The Artist’s Way. The book resonates deeply for me as walking and writing were the only things that made any sense during my divorce. Either action had the power to ground me – almost immediately. Still do.
My assignment yesterday was to take a 20-minute walk, with the intention of naming the blessings in my life with each foot fall.
Off I went, down Ainslie Street towards Winnemac Park – a few short blocks away from my home. A place where I can duck into short paths, surrounded by tall, weedy plants, and feel like I am far away. As I began walking, I began naming – to myself, my lips moving in the silence.
“I have a home. I am in Chicago. Japanese maples.” It felt contrived, forced…but I kept muttering to myself anyway. “My friend Julie. Michigan blueberries. I know how to be alone.”
I was flummoxed. Was it really true? Did I really know how to be alone? Not just survive sans partner, all the while “wishin and hopin and dreamin,” but really know how to be alone and really be ok with it? Even grateful for it?
Yes. I think so.
This is not to say I wouldn’t like to meet a mate. It’s a pretty universal desire, as my friend Mary Kate pointed out to me. But it is how I live my life “in the in between” or “until that time” that determines my “ok-ness.”
I’ve been great with the action part, filling my life with dance, writing, friendship and family. Travel. Writing. Recovery. It’s the perception part that was kicking my ass. Until it wasn’t.
I’m not sure what happened. I used to think being alone meant I was a loser. Unloveable. Undesirable. I suddenly don’t feel that way anymore. I see my aloneness, to quote a good-bad Michael Buble song, as “I just haven’t met you yet.”
I remember being in my 20s. My friend Carlos set me up with his business partner – a Jewish doctor. He owned a great, stone cottage on a lake. Good art work. But we had little in common. Little to talk about. I wasn’t excited. About him. About us.
But I liked the idea of him. Of us. And I thought, “I can make this work.”
Thankfully I didn’t have to. I got a job offer in San Francisco not long after we met. The universe at work.
I recently had that thought again. I met a man. Nice looking. Easy to talk to – especially about our divorces. But that was where it ended. We didn’t have much else to say.
As I was having those “this could work” fantasies, it hit me – why would I bother?
I know what it is like to meet someone and feel literally swept off my feet, equilibrium disrupted. To wonder how it is we ever didn’t know one another. To have so much to say to one another that we both wonder how we will ever get it all out…but delight in trying anyway.
This wasn’t it.
So I added to my list: Grateful to know what excited feels like. To have experienced it. To remember it. To have faith that I will experience it again.
Grateful to know when I’m not excited. And to know I would rather be alone than to settle. To know how to be alone so that I am never beholden to anyone again.
I am grateful to know what great sex is like. I am grateful to know what it feels like for someone to be wild about me. To not be able to keep their mitts off of me. Touching my hair, my face, my hands, my ass. Kissing me in the middle of a crowded room because he “just had to.”
Thank you Mr. Sexy Photographer from Detroit. Thank you short, horny, Jewish artist. It was a long time ago. But I remember. And I have got to believe these weren’t limited-one-time exclusive offers either.
That is a new idea. To believe in abundance in ALL things. Including love.
I am grateful for that too. And for the women who promised me I would arrive here one day. The ones who cry when I share this with them. They are abundance. They are love. I am loved. And grateful for it.