I slide down on the sofa, snuggling deeper into the blanket, which keeps me literally wrapped up in love (it was given to me by my 1000mile heart, my Sunset, my best friend in all the world, and one so similar to me in so many shades of the soul I never thought it possible), and has become a semi-permanent piece of my outer-wear when I’m at home. The dishwasher is clanking and swooshing gently in the kitchen, and to my left, in a pool of light, WonderAunty taps quietly away at her keyboard whilst The Hobbit plays in a corner of her screen.
I’ve been asleep, and tiredness is still caught in the corners of my eyes. My limbs feel lazy, languid, as though they’ve all taken up residence in hammocks and, gently swaying themselves on the shores of some tropical paradise, are staunchly refusing to move with any kind of alacrity. A shame, because this TToT they have a challenge to manage – I’ve been invited (as are you all) to join Dawn Landau’s 50 Things of Happiness – a 15 minute, 50 item gratitude/thankfulness/happy list of…well…I suppose whatever I feel fits on there *briefly wonders about returning to the site to read the rules and make sure it’s done properly, then discards the idea, reckoning it really should be as simple as it sounds.*
I have an alarm on my phone. I have access to any number of computer-based stopwatches/timers/countdown whatevers, and I’m still using the excuse of not wanting to disturb WonderAunty, for not accessing any of them. Instead I’m trusting my abilities (limited at the best of times) in maths and paying attention, to time my list according to the clock in the corner. It’s 10.29pm.
I settle further into my cosiness, letting my mind wander freely over the events of the last day, the last week, the last month.
There have been some desperately difficult moments; sad ones full of pain and despair; challenging ones full of anger and resentment; aching ones full of loneliness and the knowledge of failing. There have been lots of times of healing, physical and emotional, which have been good for body and soul but have taken a toll in their own ways. There have been fleeting instants of clarity, of all things being safe and right and wonderful. There has been love and friendship and kinship. There has been grief.
Brain untethered, I pay scant attention to the rituals of eveningtime playing out around me, responding minimally (rudely?) to interactions with Real Life. A mystery receipt and the fact of the house next door being on the market for a handsomely large figure are both brought to my attention, turned over idly in my thoughts, then dropped, unable to spark anything like enough fascination to rouse me from my torpor. Perhaps one of my items should be touch-typing, which allows me to transcribe thoughts almost in brain-time, allowing ease, if not always sense, of writing.
The festive season has been a weird one so far, on social media. It’s felt both guilt-laden and a bit heroic, continuing apace in spite of Syrian wars and American demagogues. It’s limped along with its usual frustrations and last-minute panics, more determined than ever to focus on joy and light and sparkle, whilst admitting that tunnel-vision is no use in the long run, and shivering in the chill of impending January. There have been few thoughts turned towards the new year, other than a desperate, all-pervading and faintly hysterical hope that it’s better than this one.
Regardless, there will be the moments of wonder, joy, and triumph of the human spirit over adversity seen by 2016 (and every year in human history), along with the sadnesses and heartbreaks that go hand in hand with our existence. We can all, always do better. We can all, always, seek good. We can all, always find things about our behaviours and relationships where we’re satisfied with our conduct, or wish we’d done better. We’re all a mixture, and will continue to be.
The glorious thing about mixtures is how wonderfully the good bits stand out against the bad. It’s all the cliches of light against darkness, yet it still counts. The brightness still shines, is still worth finding, and when we find it, worth treasuring.
I check my phone. Missed calls and texts from a friend, who’s set to arrive in 10 minutes, bearing bags of wonderful fruit and veggies, offered to me by a friend of hers who was given them by customers but won’t use them. An unexpected bounty resultant of a chance meeting in the high-street. I check the clock and wonder whether it counts to split my list in two, beginning, pausing to see her, then continuing, and whether my tiredness-addled brain will begin to comprehend the calculationality of thought required to manage such a feat without *gasp* Breaking The Rules.
The sides of my mental fortitude crumble, pouring down their own ricketty defenses into a jumbled heap somewhere near the base of my skull. I decide to wait for the soft knock at the door (having warned my friend via text that Neff is asleep upstairs (sub-text, please, please don’t wake him!)) and hope I still have the energy left to come up with 50 items after a late-night-in-a-rainstorm, whispered-on-the-doorstep conversation that will doubtless accompany the handing over of the goodies. Maybe if I list each goodie; each carrot and apple counting for one, I can…nope, she’s here!
The rainstorm has (astonishingly) stopped, leaving the dark street festooned in drips made bright by the sparkling Christmas lights strung merrily across trees and hedges of the neighbourhood. We had a brief, whispered conversation of happy evenings and twinned astonishment at the cardboard crate – not bags – of amazing, fresh, delicious fare. She might return tomorrow evening, for the traditional Christmas Eve Open House, in the evening, once we’ve decorated the tree. We bade each other goodnight and I shut the door (eventually) with my bum, as little lights of happy-fresh-produce-ness took up residence in mum and WonderAunty’s eyes as they saw the enormous box of food.
Brain sharpened by the cold night air, I lugged the delicious burden into the kitchen and left it on the counter, mum and I unable to resist unpacking at least *some* of it RightNow. Returning to my computer, I feel a tiny bit readier to attempt my list (not counting each item in the box, as there would be FAR more than 50!). It’s 11.13pm.
1.Cabbage, brussels sprouts, swede, leeks, onions, lemons, grapefruits, satsumas, limes, cauliflower, celery, beetroot, pears.
2.My lovely friend for bringing me such a wonderful box of food.
3.HER lovely friend for sharing the joy and preventing waste.
4.The spirit of giving and sharing.
5.For my aunty being able to be with my Grandad this week, when he died.
6.For seeing my aunty last weekend and having a really good catch-up with her.
7.Phone conversations with my dad having gone better than I might have thought.
8.Got everything wrapped and posted and delivered in time for Christmas.
9.Plans for Happy New Year things where I didn’t fulfill #8 exactly quite properly.
10.A year of feeling safe and loved at home.
11.Knowing I’ll always be welcome here, and wanted.
12.Friendships online which are so, SO much more than just friendships online.
13.Glitterbombs and cherished words.
14.WhatsApp, for enabling me to speak with some of my people every day.
15.This World Between the Wires, where you beautiful people are, and so many who also have corners of my heart.
16.Family. My family. And all we all mean to each other.
17.Special breakfast prepared for Christmas morning (coco pops and oat milk – a treat for me)
18.Encouragement of/from, and daily contact with people facing similar life/inner-world challenges.
19.Open fire in the other room.
20.Scent of real Christmas tree pervading the house.
21.Library books – free, and stocked-up-on.
22.Christmas stockings, which my family still does, gloriously, for one another.
23.Neff, asleep (in his snorey, knee-pokey, teeth-grindy, no-longer-little-boy way) upstairs.
24.Niece, not here tonight, but wonderful nonetheless, so similar to me in some ways, and so alien in others.
25.Local restaurants with GOOD vegan menus.
26.Plans for new year’s eve-eve.
27.Being healed enough from surgery to contemplate the reality of returning to work next week.
28.Having access to medical advice for the bits which aren’t quite healed enough yet.
29.Hope of good intentions transferred to the next generation.
30.Writing submitted, rejected, submitted elsewhere – a cycle which brings its own kind of validation.
31.Warm blanket and cups of tea.
32.People who check on me when I drop off the radar, because I’m worth their care.
34.The hope it gives me to see people rallying to good causes.
35.Not knowing if hope and wishes can triumph democracy and red tape, but having them anyway.
36.The warm glow of knowing I’ve made a difference, however small.
37.The ability to even write this list, be online, be part of all this!
38.My Ten Things of Thankful community, all that we’ve meant to each other over the years, and all the evolving community still means.
39.Pintrest – I really do love hoarding pretty pictures.
40.Gifts which have been chosen with love and care, because people chose to and delight in making me happy.
41.The HUGE warm glow of knowing people feel that way.
42.New haircut and a plan to get my colour back, in the new year.
43.My lovely, brilliant hairdresser, her chirpiness, and the delight of a simple, warm professional relationship.
44.It’s not been too cold yet.
45.Christmas lights on dark nights.
46.Christmas music, specifically Bach’s.
47.Christmas treats and indulgences, which will be delicious and the aftermath dealt with in the new year.
48.Being able to cook, and really enjoying it.
49.Lovely, lovely, lovely memories.
50.Learning happiness and joy, and appreciating the moments in which they exist.
It’s 11.31. The piles of rubble in my mind have dragged themselves up into a ghastly, giant figure built in huge stones and a threatening determination to NOT MATHS! I don’t think I quite made the deadline, but I DID make the list, and a sleepy smile has played about my lips for the duration of typing it.
I know I should publish and go to bed, once I’ve figured out an image to go with this post, but I know the late-night temptations of dipping into a TimeZone not my own will likely be too strong to resist for a while, and at least in chatting, I don’t need to calculate anything…so I’ll leave it here, and soon you’ll be reading, and I hope you enjoy my list and thoughts almost as much as I enjoyed thinking and listing them.
If you want to join in with your own ten things, or try a 50, you’re more than welcome. You’re welcome even if you don’t want to list anything.
I wish you a lovely Christmastime ❤
11.41pm – Ohmigosh! CAN’T BELIEVE I DIDN’T LIST POETRY!!!! *facepalm*
11.43pm – OR ART! OR NATURE! OR RAINBOWS! OR THE BEACH! Good grief. I need a bigger list!