Throughout the 30 days of November, #PSThankfulfor, KPCC and NPR’s Public Square community project, featured countless artistic takes on the many persons, places and things in peoples’ lives they are thankful for.
I realize November may be over and gone, but today I am here to present 30 not so glamorous parts of my life I am thankful for. These items aren’t the kind that are shared around the table during Thanksgiving dinner, nor are they pretty enough to plaster on Instagram, not even with ample cropping, a border, or some Lo-Fi or Sierra filtering.
These are the parts of me, myself and my life that are difficult to verbalize and articulate at times, but have shaped my being and my human experience far more than the lighter more pleasant and picturesque moments have. And for that in itself, I am thankful.
1. I am thankful for all the things I never wanted to experience. The things I cried out against, and the ones that have felt nothing but unfair. What I want is oftentimes not what I need in the first place, and it’s through these experiences, and not getting things my way, I’ve grown the most.
2. I am thankful I have come to understand the range of emotions a human being is capable of experiencing. From the lowest of lows all the way to the highest of highs.
3. I am thankful I have experienced the weight of loving someone too much, so I know my heart is capable of such a feat.
4. I am thankful I have watched people walk out of my life, for it has helped me to understand the importance of making the most of what is in front of me, while I have the chance.
5. I am thankful I have watched the same people return, for it has helped me see that nothing is certain, nothing is for sure. Life moves in circles and unruly shapes and patterns—not a straightforward path. Nothing is linear and it never will be.
6. I am thankful I carry with me the pieces of a broken heart, recognizing these pieces are not only a part of who I am today, but are valuable pieces of the puzzle of the person I am continuing to become.
7. I am thankful I have watched those who I look up to most fall apart, for it has helped me understand that with age comes both experience and wisdom, but no one is immune to feelings. It’s shown me that I am not the only one who carries a human heart, and the weight of the world on my shoulders.
8. I am thankful I have let parts of my life mean so much to me that their absence has driven me to fall apart to the point of feeling paralyzed, and down for the count.
9. I am thankful I have gotten back up—that at each and every one of these paralyzing turning points there was something that was there to grab me by the hand and pull me forward. Not something that was given to me by, or found within, someone else, but rather something that I was forced to find deep within myself and bring to the surface all on my own accord.
10. I am thankful that somewhere in my soul I have been able to maintain faith that that there is a power greater than me who hasn’t given up on me yet. It’s because of my faith the size of a mustard seed that I am able to continue on everyday.
11. I am thankful for the times I’ve given into everything that was hurting me and let whatever it was take over so to acknowledge its presence and the pain it was causing in my life.
12. I am thankful I have changed my mind more times than I can count, for it’s helped me to accept the processes that other minds and hearts go through, and has in turn, lessened the blow that comes from being at the mercy of the mind changing of others.
13. I am thankful I can’t go back to try and desperately fix the mistakes I’ve made. Even on the days I wish I could. I know they have become a part of who I am, and are all scars that are chapters of my story for a reason.
14. I am thankful I’ve experienced rejection and humiliation, for as ashamed as I felt at the time, it’s made me a stronger person, and given me necessary perspective.
15. I am thankful I’ve undergone transformations, those that have disconnected me from myself to show me the person I don’t want to be, and those that have nearly shaken me to death and brought me back home.
16. I am thankful that I’ve failed. It’s only through these failures that I have been able to face myself. These failures have helped me open my eyes to see that there will always be more failures to come.
17. I am thankful for the things I cannot change. Even if I wish I could. It reminds me that I am not in control. It teaches me a lesson in acceptance every single day of my life.
18. I am thankful for the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night and knowing that when it comes down to it, I’m here, trapped within this body of flesh and it’s the only earthly life I will ever get, and it’s all on me to make the most of it. It’s terrifying and comforting at the same time. There’s no immeasurable pressure or infinite freedom quite like it.
19. I am thankful that I don’t have any of the answers. That I don’t know what tragedy will come my way, because it would only shift my attention away from life that has been given to me to be lived in the present.
20. I am thankful I have seen the detriment that negative cycles of behavior have done to those I care about, so I can break the cycles I see in my own tendencies.
21. I am thankful I have watched family members leave when they needed to leave. I am thankful they’ve come back home.
22. I am thankful I was introduced to death at an early age. I am thankful I was in the room with it when it took its form and that I watched it be buried deep into the ground, so I would understand that this transition of experience and loss of tangibility is an inevitable part of every story.
23. I am thankful that I have seen my own life flash before my eyes, so I can understand my own fragility and impermanence in this fleeting physical realm.
24. I am thankful I have made both decisions that were based solely on my feelings, because they felt right at the time, and those that were more thoughtfully based on logic, sensibility and clarity.
25. I am thankful I have been given more chances, even though my own graceless heart doesn’t deserve them.
26. I am thankful I’ve let myself become an inactive player in my life, so I know what it looks like to take a seat on the sidelines, and so I know exactly what it takes to wake me up and slap me out of my hazy daze.
27. I am thankful I’ve made efforts to take my life back, even when I wasn’t sure where to start.
28. I am thankful I’ve walked away. Even when I didn’t want to.
29. I am thankful I’ve held on. Even though I know I shouldn’t have.
30. I am thankful my life is a beautiful mess and a lesson every day, and that this is enough reason to keep on keeping on, and more than enough reason to continue being thankful.