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It's Nelly's World


alec vanderboom

I am, unfortunately, allergic to anything called "a practice." Perhaps this dates back to the days of piano (a word in which "pain" is plainly hidden), when in exchange for thirty minutes a day of etudes and scales, I got horseback riding lessons. It is a testimony to just how magnetic I found the touch of horseflesh that I endured the hated Mrs. Brown, literally a hunchbacked gnome of a woman, who rapped my knuckles if they took the wrong form over the keyboard.

I know I ought to engage in many beneficial practices, such as the daily practice of yoga, or that of meditation, but I just can't make myself practice anything. It is probably a back-dated justification to believe I am too much of a free spirit to be packaged into a practitioner. Yes, I like that. But I must also consider that now that I am free to pursue my own practices, the memory of having once been forced to gives it that troubling flashback flavor. (Notwithstanding the fact that I am really happy now to know, sort of, how to read music.)

So, no practices for me, except this one: the practice of assembling gratitudes, those gifts that drop like fall leaves into a life. Just like that. Unasked for, unearned. But variegated and astonishingly colored, and worth a moment of scrutiny. And, um, gratitude. They will blow away eventually, to be replaced at every new breeze. Or maybe we'll put them on the burn pile and watch their transformation into smoke.

Herewith, a few of the things I am grateful for.

~ That Nelly chooses to sleep on the unkempt pile of clothes I am too lazy to hang up from the footstool on the end of my bed. No, I am not grateful to have a chenille sweater stuck through with white dog hair. But I am filled with happiness to see her on her throne of clothes, and I am touched by her apparent desire to be close to me, or at least close to what I have excreted from my scent glands.

~ Pumpkin ice cream, now making its seasonal appearance

~ My child telling me, when I tell him I love him more than anything, "But I love you more than you love me!" even though this is an impossibility

~ I am grateful unto astonishment for my friends and family and the outpouring of generosity and concern they have showed in the past two months. They have:
* Given me shelter (and clean sheets and breakfast) on a moment's notice
* Taken my child and done fun things with him while I either fell apart or did one of the twenty thousand things I suddenly had to do
* Held me in their arms while I sobbed
* Spent hour after hour on the phone with me, listening and advising, with never a word about themselves
* Brought me produce from their gardens, and bags of groceries, and presents to make me smile
* Provided dinners, with a dessert of shoulder to lean on
* Offered to help with chores
* Given me the first experience ever of having someone clean my house, because I could not keep up with it
* Called me, day after day, to check in and make sure I was okay
* Given advice on jobs, and sometimes jobs themselves
* Taken Nelly on many walks when I did not have the time, and cared for Nelly for eleven days so I could take my son on the vacation that had been promised B.C. [Before Cataclysm]
* Bought clothing for my child, to take some of the financial heat off
* Given me classes of yoga they had paid for, ditto
* Invited me places so I wouldn't feel lonely
* Sent me e-mails, of a cumulative tens of thousands of words, containing good counsel and huge comfort
* Listened, yet again, to more hours of the deepest expression of grief
* Embraced me with love
There can be no greater gratitude than I feel for this.

~ A college radio station nearby that plays old country & western heartbreak hits when I need them, and techno when I need that (admittedly less frequently than the former)

~ Short-grain brown rice

~ To be here, now

[with thanks to Kris for the inspiration]