Sunday, August 30, 2009

And Don't Forget the GRATITUDE!!!!

JC and Adena rode with me to the farmers market yesterday. We cannot resist stopping at every garage sale along the way. We are on the hunt for lightweight perfect storage for campers. And the occasional useless tchotchke (yiddish), knickknack (english), pootie nootie (swedish), kikorokoro (swahili).
I found the jiggling hula man for someone's dashboard.
He is already in the mail heading to my friend Wendy for her outdoor mosaic heavenly gardens.

At one sale, it seemed that everything in the house was up for grabs. When we pedaled up to the front porch, there were about 5 people (including a smiling dark haired man in his forties in a wheelchair) who greeted us. Inside the house was everything from decades of old Mother Earth News mags to canning and gardening supplies. The whole porch had great tools. Everything was perfectly organized. I asked a guy in the kitchen if the sale was a benefit for some organization. "Nope, it is actually our friend Steve's house and he had an accident and can't live here anymore. He fell down some stairs in February and is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life now. He was a great carpenter...and gardener..and cook. But there is no way to make this house accessible and he moved to an apartment." I started looking at everything through new eyes....I pictured the smiling man I had seen out on the lawn walking through the house and canning veggies and fixing up the place with those tools.
I didn't bother doing my usual haggling for the best prices. I just paid the asking price.
We stood next to the wheelchair, straddling our bikes and got to know Steve a little. 7 months after his accident, he was sitting in his tall wheelchair unable to use his arms or legs or open his hands. He proudly showed us the one finger he could move. He was so positive and warm. Even while telling us that he lost his job and had to leave his favorite house and gardens because of the accident, he was smiling and hopeful looking about what he might be able to do with some more time and work in physical therapy.
As the three of us said goodbye to him and lifted our healthy feet onto the pedals of our bikes, I was aware of every easy movement I usually take for granted. I cried as we left the yard sale. I wasn't crying because I felt sorry for Steve. I was crying because life can change on a dime. One minute you are running and the next minute you're horizontal and being told you will not walk again. And I wasn't even crying because of that. I was crying because I can forget to be grateful. Everyday I forget. Not all the time, but most of the time. I forget to be grateful for this healthy body, my loving partner, my loving friends and family, my unlimited choices, my lack of hardship. I actually think that I have hardship sometimes....but I don't. I have such ease. I have everything a sane person would want. I cried at the way I can be so blind to how lucky I am to be able to put one foot in front of the other and walk the dogs for hours or type these words on this machine or cook up great meals. I complain about this and that....the weather, the computer "taking my time", my fuzzy hair, my poofer belly, my wrinkles, and blah blah blah.....
All I can think right now as my fingers fly on this keyboard is "I am so fucking blessed. I hope I never forget it." And I know I will. And I know that some Steve or some other person or thing will end up right in front of me to remind me that I have EVERYTHING I need...and lots of pootie nootie I don't need.


  1. I know what you mean about gratitude and how easy it is to take our many blessings for granted, Rae, even when we're conscious of it. This may just be one of those "human conditions" things. You know how after you get over a cold or a flu, you are just so happy to be feeling well? Unfortunately, that usually just last for a day or two. Maybe it's important that we don't dwell on this so we can live more in the moment. Still, having that foundation of gratitude is so important to our well-being. I was also going to say that Steve could probably point to dozens of others he has met through the hospital and physical therapy who are in way worse shape than him, either physically or simply because he's got friends to help him. No matter how bag things are, someone is always worse off. This doesn't ease the burden much, but it does help to keep things in perspective. Much love to you and JC from another garage sale queen!

  2. Thanks Rae! That is just what I needed to hear today.


  3. Rae - you are so sweet! You know I will provide that hula man with the best home he has ever known! I found a box of rocks I had stored under the bed the other day and of course thought of you. Hopefully they will be on display by the time you come down here!

  4. Hey Rae!! I sent you an email to you relative to "Hula Man". I love him!
    This piece you wrote hits home to me sister.

    I am totally of the same mind on this.

    Thanks for putting it into words soooo well!!

  5. I am so dang low tech...just saw these comments! Just realized that there were comments below the blog postings!
    sweeeet! Thanks everyone!