So there we are. Last weekend. My wife’s birthday bash at our house. We’re all full of food, full of drink, full of the joy of each other’s company. Were you to walk through this gathering, you’d hear snippets of witty conversation and astute observations about any number of topics. But then somewhere in there, you’d hear something else.
“Uh, dude, our sump pump’s making a fucked up sound.”
Yes, it’s true. Right at the tail end of my wife’s birthday party, our house belched up the best gift of all: no more indoor plumbing.
The long and the short of it is that it’s fixed now and we can once again allow water to flow out through its various exits, along with all the wonderful things that water sweeps away with it, only a small amount of which backed itself up into one of our bathrooms. Really, it could have been so much worse.
The plumber that came to our rescue labored outside for several cold drizzly hours, and when he was done, I thought to myself, never again will I take our waste-water system for granted. But then I thought, wait, of course I will. I take stuff like that for granted all the time.
Sure, in that moment, and now as I’m sitting here thinking about it, I’m quite aware of all the mechanisms in place that allow us to send water and its baggage on its merry way. And then last night, when somebody smashed their car into a utility pole and knocked out the electricity in our hood, I was very aware of it, too (that’s right, we lost water and power in one weekend. It was Little House On the Prairie up in here). But gratitude for everyday conveniences is a fleeting thing, am I right? We only think about them when we’re forced to do without them. And I know I’m not the only one here. I’ve seen your Facebook statuses. I’ve read your tweets.
Truth is, though, I tend not to be as grateful of a person as I’d like to be. I’m aware, in a theoretical sense, of the power of gratitude to increase one’s happiness, but I’m not often so great at making the leap into actually being grateful. At least not on a regular basis. I have a shitty way of focusing on the things I don’t have instead of the things I do, even though I try to instill gratitude in my kids all the time. Be grateful, dammit! Honestly, on the list of things about myself that I wish I could just change with a snap of my fingers, this is probably in the top 3, right up there with the ability to draw and having a sixth finger on each hand.
Maybe it’s the issue of it being a thing of being, of being a certain way, as opposed to doing something. Perhaps the doing leads to the being. Do the gratitude, be the gratitude, or some such snippet of wisdom.
So how’s this for some doing? A look back over this past weekend’s adventures with my gratitude goggles on. I present to you a list of things I’m thankful for, in spite of the shit.
- That we only had to do without indoor plumbing for about a day and a half.
- That my in-laws live just a few minutes away and let us use their facilities.
- That the sump pump broke near the end of the party rather than the start, because dude? We went through some beer.
- Speaking of beer, I’m very grateful that my friends all have such good taste in the stuff. Nobody shows up with piss.
- That I’m married to this wonderful woman and was able to celebrate her birthday with her:
- That so many of my friends are such fantastic cooks. Seriously, when we do a potluck, we eat well.
- That getting our plumbing fixed cost us far less than we were fearing, because bullets: we were sweating them.
- That it’s still possible to write even if you can’t flush the toilet in the other room, as evidenced by the fact that I still got in lots of writing. Yeah, that novel? Still writing it. Maybe one day I’ll even finish it.
- That we all remained civil, even cheerful through the whole thing.
- That the plumbing outage and the power outage did not occur simultaneously.