Privilege Blog

Gratitude Reconsidered, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:43am

I’ve always struggled with Internet Gratitude. Feels too much like mayonnaise on a lens; smearing over life’s hardships so as not to mind the things that everyone does, in fact, mind. And in my darkest moments, Internet Gratitude for women looks like a tool of oppression. “No, we won’t listen to you, we won’t acknowledge your labor, now go in the corner and feel grateful for this wilted daisy in a jar. Drat, we forgot the Smuckers label.” Not my nature, that.

When I was young, admonishments to be grateful felt like shaming. I knew I was fortunate, who would not, but still I struggled as young people do and in trying to remember gratitude I’d skip right to mortification. Only a jerk would feel bad amid such abundance.

But after these last several years of painful events, no need to reiterate what they were, I feel differently. Gratitude is neither rose-pink nor umber, shameful. Gratitude, I now find to be more of a real happiness limned with sorrow which you may not be experiencing at the moment but know pretty well. Better than you might want to. When I am grateful now I am precisely because I know nothing’s guaranteed.

Somewhere between honey and vinegar. Maybe a very ripe orange, leaves attached.

Have a wonderful weekend. Nothing is guaranteed and good moments are good.


17 Responses

  1. I have been in the garden all morning. I ache all over. I sit down and find your oh so apt words. Thank you. I think I have been inspired to sit in the shady corner of my patio and let my thoughts meander where they will.

    1. You are so welcome. Gardens are good at gratitude, I think. They appreciate care but they get really mad when they don’t get it;)

  2. My gratitude has taken on a much angrier edge — I’m so lucky, but why does it take luck to have needs and wants met, why don’t we make sure we all do?

    Your tool of oppression observation is brilliant. Just one more way to control us.

  3. At this stage of life, for me, sometimes gratitude is desperation. Something, anything, to grab onto amidst the rest (my 70s have brought great challenge thus far). A life preserver. I take hold. I try to hope, with all my might.

    1. I am so sorry the 70s have been tough. I want you to be able to voice the desperation and the gratitude and also get solace for your challenges. All of our humanity and our feelings are important.

  4. Exactly how I feel about 2024 gratitude.

    One of my friends suggested a grievances and gratitude journal.

  5. Your musings so often are so on point. I enjoy reading your take on life and love the thoughts that arise after reading your writing. So in this, I feel gratitude that I was led to your site many years ago.

    1. Laura, that’s really nice of you to say. It’s a real balm, to have the crew here reading my thoughts that often feel off the wall to me. Even better if someone finds them to be on point.

  6. “Internet Gratitude”!

    My father put it well some years and years ago, “I’m just glad I woke up today.”

  7. Ha! Just the other day I scrolled into a video clip in which Drew Barrymore was asking Hugh Grant if he kept a gratitude journal, and he answered briskly, “Don’t be silly!’. . . . but conceded that he did keep “a list of things I hate.”
    But seriously . . .
    Like you, I sometimes find a toxic positivity, a coercion, in the suggestion or expectation that we be “grateful.” As well, I worry sometimes that expressing my gratitude in certain spaces (social media included) I may simply seem to be flaunting privilege. But that said, I think that cultivating gratitude, keeping all the senses open for the world’s beauty and our own good fortune, however fleeting, is perhaps one of the only ways to keep despair at bay. . .
    I’m grateful for your words each Saturday and for your friendship, and I wish that you experience genuine gratitude this very weekend, perhaps in your garden. xoxo

    1. Cultivating genuine gratitude has to be one of the best ways to keep on an even keel, and to remember how truly wonderful sheer being alive can be. I agree, our senses are the best path. And thank you, Frances, I am truly grateful to have met you too.

  8. Hello Lisa, Ogden Nash, in one of his humorous poems, makes the distinction between the happiness that derives from a good event (like getting money) and that which merely acknowledges the absence of worse luck. Speaking of which, although I do not eat preserves anymore, there are worse brands than Smuckers!

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