On Thursday, sometime near dusk, we will sit around my brother and sister-in-law's table, eight adults and one outrageously adorable child. One of that child's grandfathers will ask us to go silent for a few moments, then will say a blessing.
I'm not much for religion, but this grace I can abide. I'll bow my head, close my eyes, listen to what Dad or Rod says, and will give a collective thanks for all of this:
I am thankful more than anything for my darling Kate, the world's best niece. She reminds me that every time I think I've reached the extent of my ability to love someone, I never really have: I can always love more. I know this because every time I see her, or even hear her joyous babbles over the phone, my heart cracks open and expands a bit. It has grown a lot in the past 17 months.
Also amazing is my huge, crazy, immensely loving family. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that every single day, something reminds me just how lucky I am to have the kin I do. We love and support and stand by each other without condition, without preamble, without question. My family may not prevent me from occasionally falling flat on my face, but I never have any doubt that they'll be there to help pull me upright again.
If I had my choice, I'd pull my friends from the near and far reaches of the globe they inhabit--LA, Seattle, Portland, New York, Laos, North Carolina, Chicago, bits and pieces of Europe--and collect them all here in San Francisco. But I'll settle for knowing that they're out there, knowing that there's a litany of places I could go and find myself welcomed with open arms.
Despite what has been an occasionally hellacious and uncertain year work-wise, I'm grateful to have the freedom and flexibility to be my own boss (however inept I may sometimes feel in that role!) and to be able to say that I've created something of which I'm immensely proud.
I'm thankful to my Shanti client for reminding me time and again that love and compassion can cross any tangle of age, race, nationality, gender, and language. Too much of the world forgets how easy it is to just be human together.
And I'm grateful, finally, for this: walking back from Market Street on Thursday night with a smile involuntarily taking over my face after four hours of talking and laughing and pizza and wine; spending all day yesterday feeling funny, that kind of funny I haven't felt in a very long time; swimming in this delightful back-and-forth flow of words and photos and plans and possibilities. It all makes me amazed and awed and hopeful. "Hope is an unruly emotion," says Gloria Steinem. It is. It's also a giant breath of the purest air, and a shaft of early morning sunlight hitting a white wall, illuminating an entire room.