Thursday, November 24, 2011


Let's talk about gratitude.

It's easy to be grateful for some things. The kind of things we all say when we're at a non-traditional mass (or something) and the priest (or youth minister or pagan brotherhood leader or something) asks us to say aloud what we're thankful for. Family. The blessings god(s?) gives us. Central heat and air conditioning.

And yes, those things are great. Especially family, especially my family (and, not to diminish the importance of the aforementioned, especially central heat). But this week, I'm thankful for something I rarely acknowledge, something most of these blog posts seem to diametrically oppose:


I have not had the hardest life. I'm not even in the top ten, the top fifty, the top hundred. In the American Idol of hard lives I'm getting voted out after the first challenge (did that metaphor make sense? I've never watched American Idol). It's rather easy to forget that, because in my first-world, pampered, soft jelly marshmallow-like state the slightest adversity can seem like gorram perdition.

Slaving away for people who--if you cross them--might just try to get you fired ain't the greatest gig. But a gig is a gig is a gig is a gig, and I wouldn't trade away the friends I've made or the people I've met or the amazing drinks I can wow even regional managers with for all the bao in China.

I've served horrible people and fished shit out of toilets, all for around ten an hour with benefits. In this same city a few decades back my grandfather built railroad tracks for pennies, then spent the pennies on night school. In this city right now, people scrape by on less than nothing while jackasses argue about tipping them. Others beg for cash outside our coffeeshops and then have the incredible, respectable decency to give us tips once they can afford a cup of our coffee.

There's always someone worse off. Unfortunately, complaining is fun and reasonably entertaining, so I often lose sight of that. This Thanksgiving weekend I'm grateful for the perspective my job and my experiences occasionally give me, and I pray I keep hold of it next time I surrender to anger. Or fear. Because fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate...leads to suffering.

Oh look! Postcards!
Here we are somewhere between Hayao Miyazaki and Middle-Earth, which the postcard informs me is Chemre Gompa just east of Karu, a monastery built--or, as I like to imagine, CARVED OUT OF THE ROCKS THEMSELVES--by Lama Stag Tsang Ras Pa.
High-altitude exposure to the elements (or as I like to call it, A CONSTANT BATTLE WITH SOLAR RAYS) saps prayer flags of their color the longer they've been there and the closer they're placed to the top.

I suspect the real stray dogs around Chemre are far less adorable than the ones on this postcard, but I wasn't there, so perhaps Jess and Lisa waded up to this mountain Monastery through hordes of puppy mountaineers. You know what? I'm thankful for that image. Puppy mountain climbers. Puppies wearing hardhats and toting little pickaxes. Maybe one of them is actually puppy Indiana Jones.

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