Thanks 2015, I Hardly Knew ‘Ye

Still No Better This Year

Instead of making resolutions for the coming year, which will fail within weeks, I thought it would be better to look back on the past year with an eye to giving a nod to the things for which I’m truly grateful. Below, is a list of fifty things I was grateful for in 2015:

  1. My kids. They hold a mirror up to the good and the bad in myself, which is humbling but also a source of wisdom. I am acutely aware of the emotional impact of how I relate to them and I want to get that right. It’s the impetus behind my efforts to be more conscientious in my conduct in the world. My kids help me understand the virtue of relishing simple pleasures; the value of deep, interpersonal relationships compared to other objectives, like career or financial aspirations. My efforts to be a better parent have allowed me to grow as a human being, even if just a little. 
  1. My partner. She’s beautiful and lovely. She’s Italian; has curves that aren’t too big or too small, and big brown eyes. She laughs at my jokes and is the sweetest, most kind-hearted person I know. I can’t believe I met her totally by fluke while we were both sipping coffee at Starbucks, each with zero intention of dating at the time. How lucky is that? 
  1. My best friends, because I’ve known them twenty-five years and – I can’t believe I’ve had friends for twenty five years. Holy shit. 
  1. Birds, because they are spectacular creatures. Some of my favourites: Northern Flicker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bohemian Waxwing, and Indigo Bunting. I love crows, not because they are beautiful but because they are incredibly clever animals.
  1. Mozart, because his music leaves me with the sensation of wading naked in a pool of molten chocolate, while sipping a cup of melted butter and honey from a straw.
  1. Chocolate, because it’s better than cocaine and costs way less.
  1. Jesus, because he was a rock-star rebel and had a bushy hipster beard before hipsters ruined the motif. If he were alive today he would be the moral foil to the greed and corruption that divides humanity and destroys the planet. He would also tell the hipsters to stop being so cynical and pretentious.
  1. Starbucks, because it’s the sanctuary from my office, even if it is an over-priced, frou-frou beacon of gentrification. Some days, it’s the only place where I can sit and read a book. 
  1. Assholes, because they make it so much easier to appreciate the small acts of kindness in my day. I’m grateful for finding a way to put a positive spin on the existence of assholes.
  1. Sunsets because there is something about them, isn’t there? It’s so intriguing you cannot help but look. 
  1. Sunrises, because ditto #10, except sometimes it’s harder to get up early enough to enjoy them. Sunrises are the poor, under-appreciated apprentice to sunsets, which is a shame.
  1. The facebook site Humans of New York, because it is the one thing on facebook or other social media that is genuine. There is no click-baiting, there is no ‘hey, you won’t believe this,’ there is no contrived sentimentality. Sometimes the stories are heartbreaking, and sometimes they are uplifting. What is more, the comments from followers restore my faith in humanity because the supportive ones outpace the hating trolls by a margin of about ten to one.
  1. The sound of the leaves on trees rustling in the wind on a warm summer day. It’s like the best white noise ever.
  1. Public gardens, because I can’t keep a cactus alive. They provide a beautiful venue to sit and stroll that I am too incompetent to create myself.
  1. Bees, because they are vital to the food supply and work tirelessly for the benefit of humans and other creatures. It’s almost divine how one creature’s contributions sustain the nutriment of countless others. 
  1. Dog videos that make me laugh until I cry. I love dogs, and wish I had the time and space to have one of my own. Although, I really hate picking up dog shit, so there’s that.

  1. Sappy, sentimental movies that, no matter how hard I suppress my tears, make me cry like a six year old whose ice cream cone fell into the muck. Damn you “The Fault in Our Stars” you made me sob like a putz in front of my twelve year old; which is okay, of course, because boys DO cry. 
  1. Basil, paprika, garlic, and oregano. They make food taste better.
  1. Cheese, even though it is fattening, smelly like sports socks, and makes my belly ache.
  1. The original weirdo bands like The Smiths, The Cure, New Order, Kraftwerk, because they were pathbreakers and outcasts with widespread appeal. It was a huge relief when I was an angst-ridden teenager who wondered if there was any place for self-appointed outcasts who didn’t want to fit into the crowd.
  1. The Velvet Underground. Because, Lou Reed. I mean, Lou Reed, right? The world is a lot less cool because he’s not in it. 
  1. The Canadian election in October, where a race-baiting, public-servant hating, Conservative douche-bag was handily shown the door by the Canadian electorate. The sound victory for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals restored my faith in the sanity of my fellow countrymen. Thanks Canada for not being a bunch of redneck, Social Darwinist jerks.
  1. Yoga, because it chills me out. 
  1. My job. I don’t love it by any stretch, not even close, but it pays decently and has great benefits (see point # 40). There are a lot of jobless people out there and I don’t take for granted the grace of having a full-time, permanent job.
  1. Pizza, because it’s greasy, fattening, rife with nitrates and preservatives, and delicious. I usually eat about five slices more than I should. Thanks pizza, for launching me to the cosmos in a state of glutton-induced bliss and making me fatter than I should be. 
  1. Earplugs, because they help me sleep and drown out conversations that are stupid or that have me launching into a flurry of derisive internal commentary about the people having it, which makes me feel like a judgmental asshole. Earplugs spare me the whole ordeal. 
  1. My infinite neuroses. The catastrophically tangential nature of my inner-narrative propels me to be pro-active where it really matters. If I wasn’t wracked with irrational fears of dying of some heinous, rare type of cancer, I never would have got off the couch or bothered to eat a vegetable. If I wasn’t worried about going nuts, I wouldn’t have picked up things like meditation and spirituality to guard against the random fear I am inclined to madness. Nobody in my family has ever gone mad. 
  1. The smell of fresh-baked bread. When I was a kid I used to steal buns from a bakery adjacent to my house. They would put their bread trays outside in the parking lot behind their kitchen to cool off. The aroma would cascade into my bedroom window, summoning me out of bed in the morning. It’s the main reason I went through a really awkward pudgy phase when I was about twelve.
  1. Black Sabbath, because I was a metal head in the 80s and 90s and so many metal bands I thrashed to wouldn’t exist if they hadn’t been influenced by Sabbath.
  1. My mother because, even though she was far from perfect in seeing to my healthy emotional development, she charged through the struggle. As a parent myself, I know how difficult it must have been to be single with two kids to raise.
  1. The fact that, even though we are divorced, my ex-wife and I get along. There are ups and downs, of course, but on the whole we still respect and support each other as co-parents and have yet to throw a single knife at each other.
  1. Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Ministry of Silly Walks. German philosophers versus Greek philosophers in a football match. The Spanish Inquisition. The Holy Grail. I could go on. Very well then, I will. The Life of Brian. Village Idiots. The Dead Parrot. I should stop now because I’m being a bit of a ninny. 
  1. The fact people read my blog, even though it’s obvious some stumbled on my site while looking for porn. A lot of folks stuck around and enjoyed a few articles before they got back to the main task of finding something to jerk off to.
  1. The female of the human species. They are the life-givers, even if generations of wily, self-serving males have fashioned clever lies to make us believe otherwise.
  1. People whose work involves serving others, even though the pay sucks, the work is often dangerous, and sometimes thankless. Teachers, nurses, social workers, fire fighters, police officers, soldiers; they deserve our gratitude because they sign up for jobs that most of us wouldn’t want. These are the middle-class heroes.
  1. Literature. Vonnegut, Tolstoy, Garcia Marquez, Dostoyevsky, Flaubert. I wish I had three lifetimes so I could have the time to read all the greats.
  1. Nature trails, because they give city-slickers like me a chance to be outdoors and spend time with my kids doing something we all enjoy.
  1. Silliness, because it’s out there, if you’re willing. My favourite silly thing to do is to speak to my co-workers, out of the blue, using any one of the dozens of accents I can do.
  1. Laughter, because it is the best medicine, even if it is a cliché.
  1. The chance to help Syrian refugees escape the war and conflict in their country. In fact, I’ve been in Jordan for a while now, and it is a wonderful place. Despite how grueling the pace of work is, I am proud to do something real to help people in need, even though it meant I had to be away from my partner and my children through the Christmas season.
  1. Meditation, not because it’s fun, not because it makes me a spiritual maven, but because it works. I don’t know why, I can’t explain why, and I’ve stopped trying to figure it out. It doesn’t matter. 
  1. Dance music; dancing in my underwear until I am sweaty and faint. It’s a guilty pleasure that nobody knew about until just now. I wish I was as good as this kid:

  1. The marvels of human ingenuity, curiosity, creativity, and inventiveness – advances in art, culture, science, and technology. They testify to the virtuous parts of the collective human endeavour.
  1. Writing. I still battle the inner-critic that tells me I am a terrible writer, that it’s a total waste of my time. But it’s therapeutic; it’s an outlet for an innate craving for creative self-expression. I am grateful for an avocation fueled by passion rather than necessity. 
  1. That I made it to forty-five things to be grateful for in one sitting. I didn’t think it was possible. I’m grateful to have so many things to be grateful for.
  1. Having the chance to live in the Middle East for a time; to have countless everyday experiences to dispel the negative media caricatures over my entire forty-something lifetime of Muslims, Arabs, and other humans who call this part of the earth home. To watch a Jordanian man interact with his little children is to completely obliterate everything I learned second-hand about Arab-Muslim men.
  1. Peanut butter because it’s delicious, creamy, and nutty. I am grateful I’m not allergic because a day without peanut butter is like a day without sunshine. 
  1. Love; the feeling of unity, the awareness of a fate intimately shared with something or someone other than myself. The sense of vulnerability that comes with letting-go into the thing loved is both frightening and quintessentially life-affirming. 
  1. Beauty; a phenomenon that makes the hairs across my flesh stand tall, that gives me the butterflies. Some things hit my senses and an energy radiates throughout my body before my mind is aware it’s happening, and I am in awe for reasons I can’t explain. I am grateful to be  touched by beauty.
  1. Nature, which provides me and every living thing on the planet with infinite avenues of existence. If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves. I am grateful more of us humans are serious about living in harmony with nature in 2015 than did in the past.

What were you grateful for last year? Think about it. Try and jot down a list. Most of all, have a Happy New Year in 2016.