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Thinking about Thanks

11/29/2010

Now that I’ve eaten my last turkey sandwich – at least until next month – I’ve been thinking about this cliché-burdened season. I know it goes against my personal brand, but, at the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, I’m going to trot out a totally threadbare cliché and use it without irony.

Here goes: I have a lot to be thankful for.

It sounds sappy because people say it so often – especially at this time of year – and usually do so without much thought. I’m saying it because I have thought about it, and in my case at least, it’s true.

There’s the obvious stuff, of course –  I have a roof over my head, a warm place to sleep, plenty to eat, access to clean water and I’m not afraid of getting dragged out of the house and shot in the middle of the night. That makes me – and likely you, too – better off than at least three quarters of the earth’s population.

On top of that, I have a great deal beyond the basics that most of us in the developed world take for granted. I have a great family – sons, sisters, cousins – a large network of friends, including my ex-wife, and I’m healthy as a horse. The recession has made my financial picture more challenging than it once was, but this will pass.

For all the above, I am grateful. But it goes deeper – to the gift of knowing myself. That was the point of my post last week about coming out as a writer. In fact, self-knowledge is really the point of this entire blog. For those of us who come out late, self-knowledge is, perhaps, the ultimate gift.

Our ability to know ourselves is never prefect, of course. Nor is it ever complete. Nor do we ever cease changing. All of which makes self-knowledge an ongoing challenge. But getting to the basics of who we are makes everything else so much clearer and easier. Knowing that I’m gay – knowing it at the deepest level, without any doubts or ambiguities – is what makes the rest of my life make sense.

I’m grateful for this self-knowledge.

And I take it one step farther. I thank God for making me who I am – a gay man.

In recent years, I have become a practicing Christian of the Episcopalian variety. Sort of like with the gay thing, I’m a late bloomer. In fact, getting to gay and getting to God were all part of the same process. There are as many different spiritual paths as there are people on earth, and yours may be quite different from mine. But irrespective of how you define your higher power, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to express gratitude – not only for the knowledge of who you are, but for the fact of being you who you are.

Not only am I clear on who I am, I have also come to the point of being glad about it. This wasn’t easy. I fought it tooth and nail for nearly 40 years. But with God’s help I got here. This brought not only pain relief, but also, in time, a sense of positive identification with myself that beats anything I had ever known. I like being gay.

And I try to remember to say thank you.

Not just on Thanksgiving.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Margaret Ellis permalink
    11/29/2010 6:49 AM

    This is a very nice piece, David. I think it may be universal that we have to get some years behind us to know and appreciate who we are. Too bad that we spend our youth in such anxiety over it. I am glad you found your wonderful self.

    • 11/29/2010 7:42 AM

      Glad I’ve gotten here too. But I’m not convinced any of the rest of it was actually wasted time. The youthful anxiety – and there was plenty of it – was just part of the path for me.

  2. John Rivest permalink
    11/29/2010 8:01 AM

    Touching, really. Thanks for posting.

    • 11/29/2010 9:25 AM

      Thanks. And you’re welcome.

  3. 11/29/2010 4:01 PM

    Ah, the gift of self-knowledge. So many of us go a lifetime without ever attaining it! Seems to me it is a life-long quest for many of us, and a gem to be held onto with gratitude when one gets it, as you have. Thanks for the reminder about what’s important.

    • 11/30/2010 11:34 AM

      You are right of course, but I’ll admit that sometimes I think I’d trade it all for a trust fund allowing me to retire right this minute and sit on the beach for the rest of my life. Or even for a good hard salami sandwich on caraway rye.

      But since neither of those is a likely occurrence, I’ll be content knowing myself, and work on figuring out the rest as I go along.

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