Saturday, I’m on top of a ladder dusting the ceiling-fan in my bedroom inhaling a billion cobwebs while I’m at it. It’s disgusting work and I’m sneezing like crazy. To think that I blew this stuff around on warm nights like an allergy accelerator. From the fourth step I can see a sliver of shimmering ocean against a razor-sharp line of sky. It’s what the realtors call a ‘peekaboo view’ in case one is inclined to stand in my room with a six-foot ladder to enjoy the peeking.
I see a sailboat and imagine the life out there, off of the kelp beds somewhere between La Jolla and Point Loma a windy fall day. Maybe it’s a family and the wind is howling, more than they expected and the wife is laughing as her hair is whipping around. Their son is bouncing over the chop as the boat picks up speed. I want to be the wife. And I don’t even like sailing and I truly hate it when my hair gets blown to bits, but unlike her, I would wear a hat. This is a recurring thing with me lately, this desire to be transported, this new-sprung leak in my gratitude bucket, where I’m not “present” and I’m resentful of the things required to move me through the day. I’m a walking, seething check-list and the edges are starting to fray. I’m not savoring my time on the ladder even though I’ve manhandled it nicely and crap, I’m making a real difference with the Swifter duster. I can see why the mops are nervous.
Thanksgiving is 10 days away, and all around me are cheerful people posting daily gratitudes on Facebook, thankful for the sweetest and simplest blessings, the peaceful expression of a sleeping toddler, a roaring fire in the fireplace, a beautiful meal prepared by a friend, all things I’ve experienced and been grateful for in my life. I’m fast-forwarding to my mother’s dinner table and wondering what will fall out of my mouth when it comes my turn to offer-up what I’m most grateful for in this past year. I do a mental eye-roll just thinking about it. Wow. It scares me when I get uncharacteristically churlish and harbor an inner sneer.
I have advanced gratitude as a sure-fire way to rev-up my life and I have to say it hasn’t failed me. Until now, when I confront that little, mean-spirited selfish person I thought I’d buried with all of my goody-goodness. She’s in there, alright, demanding a maid and a pedicure. She wants everyone in her life to say “thank you” more often. To her. She wants attention, recognition and for people to tell her she looks 10 years younger than she really does, to guess her weight as 5 pounds lighter, to tell her that her idea is nothing short of brilliant, that the meal she prepared is spectacular. In short, despite all of the awesome power of being grateful, I am still me. And I am still small in trying to be large.
Why this shocks me is a mystery. We always hope that we can evolve and overcome our DNA and in many ways we can and do. Problem is, it can’t be done 100% of the time. And so from the ladder, I whisper a prayer: “Lord, thank you for my ocean view.”