English writer G.K. Chesterton wrote: “When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” Taking things with gratitude means affirming that we’re the recipients of blessings and gifts, and recognizing that the sources of these good gifts are others rather than ourselves. There are many ways to live gratefully, one of which is to keep a gratitude journal to note the good things in the world. Here’s my gratitude journal for this week:
>> The help and support my son received at camp when his cochlear implant processor (and the spare back-up) broke, leaving him unable to hear for 24 hours. The hardest part was not being able to communicate with him—he obviously couldn’t hear me on the phone, and the camp is tech-free so we weren’t able to text or email. We worked with the camp director to trouble-shoot the issue and were able to have the manufacturer overnight a new connection cable to fix it, and I am thankful for the urgency, diligence, and care with which camp staff and the manufacturer all handled the situation. I am most grateful to Matt’s bunkmates. The crew has been together for five summer now, and are the tightest posse of bros. When Matt eventually called to tell me his processor was fixed, he shared with me how helpful and accepting his pals had been. “They like me for me, and even thought I couldn’t hear them, I was able to read their lips. They’re the best,” he said.
>> An evening of stand-up comedy with Paul Reiser. My mom and I adored his show, “Mad About You” back in the 90s, with Reiser playing sweet-tempered, funny, gentle Paul Buchman to Helen Hunt’s Jamie. When my mom was undergoing treatment for breast cancer a few years after the show ended, I brought her the series on VHS, and it was a comforting escape for her to spend a little happy time in the Buchmans’ fictitious TV world again. We traded cute signature lines from the show (“My belly is jolly!”) up until her final weeks. Seeing Paul Reiser perform live this week warmed my heart. His act was sweet, funny and gentle, and showed him to be the nice, loving, family guy I had always hoped he’d be. I had a big smile from beginning to end, as I felt like my mom was sitting on my shoulder, appreciating the humor right along with me. It was a very emotionally connecting experience, and I’m grateful for it.
>> Our life is (sometimes too) quiet in our little summer hamlet, and I’m so grateful to friends who get together with us while they’re in the area or who make the effort to come out and visit us. We had both this week, and it’s so nice to be able to catch up in a much more laid-back, relaxed atmosphere than during the rest of the hustle-bustle, stress-filled year.
>> The amazing folks who work in our community. Almost every day during the summer, we spend the morning running short errands: things like “foraging” to the cheese store, fish store, farmstand, bakery, wine store or supermarket for food and cocktails; picking up mail at our post office box (no home delivery in our tiny village); stopping in at the hardware store; taking our garbage to the dump. One of the greatest joys is taking the time to get to know the wonderful people who work in our community and learning about them and their businesses. Sadly, there’s a loud outcry from many local shopkeepers, cashiers, farmers, restaurant servers, etc., who lament the entitled, rude nature of a lot of the summer residents. (There’s actually a Facebook group called “Douche Spotter” to document the brazenly obnoxious behavior.) I’m embarrassed to have witnessed so many self-important, condescending customers treat the backbone of our community so demeaningly, and I try to bend over backwards to express my gratitude toward them and the hard work they do. The worst part is that many locals have simply come to expect such treatment from summer customers, and they seem genuinely surprised when I smile and say something nice to them. I am so grateful for all they do, year-round, to make our community comfortable and happy, and I am so sorry for the disgraceful crap they have to put up with between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
>> Local native sweet corn! I’m not usually a fan of early corn—the variety is often characterized by giant, starchy, dark yellow kernels, but this year we’ve been fortunate to find scrumptious cobs full of tiny, sweet kernels. Thank you to Mother Nature and the farmers at Pike in Sagaponack for such yumminess so early in the season!