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.

Copyright © Amy Gutman. All rights reserved.

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

  1. Thanks you, Kathryn — and it’s great that you’re able to appreciate the good that comes with the challenging even as you’re going through it. Sending lots of good wishes your way.

  2. 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.

    • Thank you — and I’m so glad the post resonated. As for the big picture, I think it’s so important to acknowledge the real & often overwhelming realities we’re contending with in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Did you see my last post, the one before this one? That’s one issue on which I plan to focus in the year ahead.

      • Oh, yes I did read it. But I just went back and reread it. Now I got it! Thank you!

  3. 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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