Gratitude for what I have – and also for what I did not

Vintage Thanksgiving Day Postcard

This has been a year of big changes for me, most of them for the good. After three years of under and unem­ploy­ment, I rejoined the work­force this Sep­tem­ber in a full-time job that, I’m happy to say, seems to be going quite well. While I miss the daily rural beauty of west­ern Mass, I’m also deriv­ing real (if sur­pris­ing) plea­sure from being back in a city. Plus friends and a weekly UMass Amherst teach­ing gig still draw me back on a reg­u­lar basis.

My sit­u­a­tion at this time last year was very dif­fer­ent – as reflected in the title of last year’s hol­i­day post: Thanks­giv­ing in Plan B Nation (or how to be grate­ful when you don’t feel grate­ful). I had just started this blog – that post was its fifth – and was still hav­ing a hard time mak­ing sense of my life’s tra­jec­tory. I’m doing what? I’m liv­ing where? All that work, all those cre­den­tials, and I’ve ended up here?

This year, I have no trou­ble tap­ping into grat­i­tude: Work, friends, writ­ing, home – all of it, right at the moment, feels pretty good, a tes­ta­ment to how sud­denly life can turn around.

But along with these obvi­ous rea­sons, I’m grate­ful for some­thing more: I’m grate­ful both for what I have now and for what I didn’t have then.

I’m grate­ful for how this time in the jobs wilder­ness forced me to expand my sense of who I am apart from my credentials.

I’m grate­ful for the ways it led me to become braver as a writer – to take risks that I likely wouldn’t oth­er­wise have taken.

I’m grate­ful for this blog and other writ­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties – for the intel­lec­tual sus­te­nance, sup­port, and friend­ships, con­nec­tions that I am tak­ing with me into this next stage of life.

I’m grate­ful for hav­ing had a chance to move to the coun­try and deepen my ties to a part of the world I love.

I’m grate­ful for the ways this stretch of life fos­tered greater com­pas­sion for mil­lions of peo­ple strug­gling for rea­sons that are often largely (or entirely) beyond their control.

And most of all, I’m grate­ful for the fact that I can feel grate­ful – for the fact that I had the resources to nav­i­gate these chal­lenges with­out being crushed by them. In that, I was very, very lucky. Many, of course, are not.  As I look to the future in Plan B Nation, grat­i­tude strikes me as an excel­lent foun­da­tion for think­ing about how to change this.

© 2012, amy gut­man. All rights reserved.

7 thoughts on “Gratitude for what I have – and also for what I did not

  1. Really enjoyed this post, Amy. I too have found intel­lec­tual sus­te­nance once I began blog­ging and get­ting social. Your site seems to be an excel­lent source for this and I look for­ward to what you next write. I am intrigued by how you will help change the fact that so many are not as for­tu­nate as you. Many of us feel as though, and prob­a­bly are, one mis­for­tune away from liv­ing under the bridge.

  2. Con­grats again on your new posi­tion! I could relate to your lessons as I was laid off a lit­tle over a year ago and am still in the process of find­ing another; how­ever, I am very grate­ful for this time which has given me so many gifts I didn’t even know I des­per­ately needed.…like rest! Happy hol­i­days and may you con­tinue to receive all the best life has to offer!

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