Tuesday, November 20, 2012


saying thanks

Here it comes again, our annual chat about gratitude, during this thanks-giving week.  Just in time, too, because I've been moping around lately as I come to the end of Byron's Letters and Journals, all twelve volumes of them, and thinking a lot, as I always do, about lives well lived, causes worth fighting for, acceptance of the way life unfolds, and what the heck it all means, if anything.  You know, the usual.  I finished Byron over the weekend, and it was with great sadness that I read his last letter and set aside the final volume, as he lay dying of fever in a far-off country, at age 36.  What more would he have done, had he lived to old age?  I won't speculate, as he certainly gave life his all, and wrote repeatedly that he knew he was not long for this world.

Well, none of us are, in the big picture.  So if there is something you want to do in life, don't wait.  On that doleful note, I will turn to something short and sweet, a tiny tall book by an author I love, Anne Lamott.  Her new book is Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (Riverhead 2012), and is just what I needed after a long and intense reading project.  An hour or two spent with this yesterday evening re-set my internal clock so that all the hands are veering away from despair and pointing toward gratitude once again.

Help, everything is terrible and we can't possibly cope and whose idea was this anyway; Thanks, life is okay today and even sometimes more than okay; Wow, the world is a spectacular place and we are blessed to be alive to experience it.  What a great book, so funny and real.  The section on giving thanks I found particularly relevant, because my thankfulness list is long this year.  Here are a few excerpts from it.

I am thankful for the amazing people who keep buying secondhand books from me, and from other used book dealers I know and love.  Every month I receive a big printed list from the antiques mall where I offer my books for sale, and every month I read all the titles on the list and am lifted up and even astounded at the wonderful books people have purchased and apparently plan to read.  (I also receive a check, which is fine too.) 

I am thankful for people who want to live with art in their homes, and pay money to do so to the artists (painters, writers, musicians, etc) who do the creating and struggle to share their vision.  It is a privilege to have the time and resources to bring one's heart's desire to fruition, and I find it incredible that in this day and age people can still make or find time to be centered and focused enough to write novels and poetry and songs, paint paintings, sculpt, knit, you name it.  I am blessed with a workable amount of this spaciousness within my own life and wish it for everyone.

I am thankful for my husband Ryan and our cat Hodge, they make our home truly Home.  My parents, hard-working people of integrity.  My two sisters (I am the middle child of three), whom I look to for equilibrium.  My extended family and far-flung friends, all examples of resilience in the face of everything both beautiful and terrible.

Speaking of family, and thankfulness, my sister Kate is blogging again from time to time, and is bravely forging ahead with parenthood as she approaches the due date for the arrival of a new baby.  I am so proud of her!  And my uncle John is also writing, but not a blog, instead he has self-published his first novel, and is now at work on another.  He is responding to that inner call, saying, If not now, when.  I am so proud of him!  Both John and Kate, embodiments of so much I am grateful for, in life. 

Thank you.  Say it now, say it often.

I love this post as much as the one on Obama's victory. From a fellow antiques mall bookseller and Anne Lamott fan from Ohio!
Thank you, Tess! I love your blog - oh the tribulations and joy of book-hunting. And I see you just read "I Capture the Castle" - such a wonderful book! I also notice that you write "antiques mall" instead of the dreaded "antique mall." We appear to have much in common. ;O)
Yes, we do! I have been reading you for a LONG time. When you stopped for awhile -- a LONG while -- I was bereft.

Oh Tess, I'm glad you returned. I had good reasons for stopping. Those reasons have dissipated, and I really do love to write (especially about books), so here I am again. Thanks.
Sarah - please leap into doing a book - what a good winter project. I am so glad you are back on a regular basis. Kathleen
You've been reading here a long time too, Kathleen. Thanks for sticking around. I appreciate your positive bookish comments so much.
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