Nov 26 2020

On Being Thankful

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It would be easy to be glib today. “I am thankful that 2020 is almost over!” is a joke that writes itself, while also being an objectively true statement. Yes, the numbers on a calendar are purely arbitrary designations created by a consensual shared illusion, but they have psychological power, and 2020 has been fucking awful for me personally as well as on a national and global stage. So yeah, it’s there.

But I want to be grateful. This year of all years, “thanksgiving” as a concept is one that almost feels like a radical rebellion. The world wants to go out of its way to be awful? Well I’m going to work just as hard to remember what’s good, and to look towards a tomorrow that will be better.

Mrs. Gneech and I have to move. Despite everything we’ve tried, all the hoops we’ve jumped through and how bone-grindingly hard we’ve worked, we simply cannot afford to live the way we have. To describe us as “unhappy” about this is the kind of understatement that Brits used to use when describing the Blitz as “a bit of a nuisance.” We are quite frankly devastated at seeing decades of savings wiped out, at having to lose our home again, at years-in-a-row of constant rejection and unemployment despite both being educated, experienced, hard-working, and talented. But even among this, there is room for gratitude: we are supremely fortunate to have somewhere we can go. We have friends and relatives both who have offered us places to land, somewhere to live besides “out of our car” or “on the street.” These offers aren’t made lightly—in some cases they would make someone else’s already-cramped arrangements even more so. That’s a profound act of kindness towards us, and I’m keenly aware of that and grateful for it.

A pandemic is ravaging the country. Fueled by the antirationalism of a bone-stupid nation, it’s killed hundreds of thousands and done long-term physical and psychological damage to so many more. But I’m grateful that in my own personal circle, only one person has contracted it so far. It was agonizing for her, and at one point she quite literally believed she wasn’t going to survive to the end of the day, but she pulled through. The experience has impacted her—it would be hard for it not to—but she is all right. I am grateful for that, and I am grateful to have friends and family who understand that science is real and protect themselves; I am also grateful to live in a region of the country where “science is real” is the prevailing attitude. I miss restaurants and conventions and all that jazz, but I am grateful to be among people who understand that to have those things back, we have to take precautions now.

I am grateful that the fascist is on his way out. I am grateful for seeing people dancing in the streets, for fireworks in London and bells ringing over Paris, because it shows that most people really do understand what’s been happening and what was at stake. The fight goes on, but this was an important victory and I’m grateful for it.

I’m grateful for Shade-Of-the-Candle. Life without my creative spark is gray, formless, and depressing. If I have to choose between being obsessed with something, or being dead inside, I’ll take the obsession every time. While I’m frustrated that I don’t have much ability to steer my artistic drive in directions I would prefer, I am still grateful that they exist. Around the new year or so this past year, when my despair at seeing there was no way for us to get out of our financial hole was at its worst, being able to draw Shady, to play Shady in D&D, and to come up with stories about my fuzzy problem child, was literally what enabled me to get out of bed some mornings.

Catra, eating a dumpling and being adorable.On a related note, I’m grateful for season five of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and Catra’s messy healing arc. I’ve written elsewhere about what I owe this series, so I won’t rehash it here. But it was important to me, and I’m grateful for it. And honestly, just look at Catra, eating a dumpling. Look! Isn’t that something to be grateful for? I’m grateful for Good Omens, I’m grateful for the Animaniacs reboot (of which I’ve only seen clips), I’m grateful the Twitterponies still exist, even if they’re quieter than they used to be.

As of the time of this writing, Mrs. Gneech and I still haven’t worked out where we’re going. We’ve dragged our feet so long that we ended up having to pay an extra month’s rent that we absolutely can’t afford in our current place, and we’ve got to get over it and move. Which means facing hard decisions where the only answers are various levels of “We don’t want that.” But at the same time, under all that, I feel a weird little flicker of hope, that I haven’t felt for a long time. I put Symphony of Science at the top of this essay because WitchieBunny reminded me of it last night. The past few years have felt like the world was collapsing in on itself (and my life was collapsing in on me), but there are bigger things and better things. I really do think things are going to start getting better soon, and I’m holding on to that thought.

I’m looking forward to a brighter tomorrow. And I’m grateful that it’s coming.

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