October is coming. It used to be my favorite month, but after last year, my mind will always associate it with grief and loss. I expect it to be a difficult month, and I’ve tried to do all I can to build up strength to face it. I’ve heard that gratitude is a good defense against depression, so I’m going to try a little exercise here.
A friend started a Twitter game last week, called #inever, in which we confessed to little things we’ve never done. Inconsequential things, like never watching The Godfather, or never getting detention in school. Things that we felt a little silly about having missed out on, because it seemed like everyone else in the world had been there and done that. After an hour’s worth of responses, the game became something else for me. As we connected over the experiences we’d missed, I started to think about how wonderful and uplifting the opposite game would be.
If I look at my life from the perspective of all the little things I have done, it’s such a beautiful picture.
I’ve earned a gold medal raising money for MS research in a Read-a-Thon. I’ve been featured in my local newspaper (I placed 5th in a province-wide art competition). I have been a teacher’s pet. I have been an elementary school valedictorian. I’ve worn out a VHS tape and a pause button trying to transcribe all the dialogue from The Return of the Jedi. I’ve lost my voice at Backstreet Boys concerts. Plural. I have tried out for sports teams and played badminton and thrown javelin with much more heart than skill. I have gotten a tattoo. I have helped to put together a high school yearbook, and I have had angsty poetry published in my university newsletter. I have traveled miles to surprise friends who went away to college.
I have withdrawn from university, signed back up, and graduated. And been back again for more. I’ve saved lives in the lab. I’ve given blood and I’ve taken it from veins. I’ve learned to give myself injections. I’ve asked for a raise. I’ve quit. I’ve fought for change. I’ve started a blog and used it to promote what I do and what I love.
I’ve made pasta from scratch. I’ve dyed eggs and carved pumpkins and thrown a dried-out Christmas tree from a balcony. I have let babies grip my pinky in their tiny hands. I have hugged family more often than I can count. I’ve started my own holiday traditions. I’ve made Thanksgiving dinner all by myself. I have moved to a whole new country on faith that the relationship was worth it. I’ve installed a light fixture, assembled bookcases, bought a car, bought a home. I’ve rung in the new year with those I love, and I’ve whispered Happy New Year to myself while driving home alone, watching fireworks in my mirrors.
I’ve had lunch in the crater of Mt Saint Helens, and I’ve tasted the salt of both the Atlantic and Pacific. I have volunteered and I have voted. I’ve been caught in the rain and I’ve been caught in the sun. I’ve been caught singing in my car. I’ve walked in the Blue Ridge, the Adirondacks, the Alps and the Rockies. I’ve seen the Eiffel tower sparkling at night. I’ve seen Salzburg at daybreak and Prague at dusk. I’ve eaten croissants in Paris and gelato in Rome. I’ve been in the same room as a Pope, and I’ve been shushed under the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I’ve snorkeled with turtles on Valentine’s Day, holding my husband’s hand underwater. I’ve ridden a camel, watched whales, and hugged a dolphin. I’ve seen eclipses and transits and Mars landings, and I’ve stood in the cold night to watch the Space Station race across the sky. I’ve been on a giant boat with a thousand friends and I’ve become part of a wonderful community.
I’ve talked people out of suicide. I’ve talked myself out of it, too. I’ve learned when to ask for help. I’ve learned when to fight, when to refuse to accept “no.” I’ve smiled when I was expected to, even when I was sure I didn’t have it in me. I have grown. I have changed. I have survived and accomplished and flourished, and I will continue to do so, whatever may come.
I love this a lot. I’m glad we’re friends.
Jen, both a lovely piece of writing and an encouraging subject. Thanks for sharing
This is a holy-shit I-have-chills piece of writing. So beautiful, in its words and spirit.