Grey Days and Gratitude

Picasso's "Woman Ironing"

Picasso’s “Woman Ironing”

Maybe it’s because it’s March, and I don’t like March. Maybe it’s because I’m in the thick of a busy busy week. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to plan a wedding for the summer and do not always feel very good at that kind of thing. Maybe it’s because the collapse of human civilization will be “difficult to avoid”, according to a recent NASA-funded study, and it’s all our fault. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I don’t yet feel confident, wealthy, or wise enough for the journey. Maybe it’s because there’s rabbit hair all over my couch despite my best efforts, or maybe it’s because that aforementioned “civilization is ending” report makes me feel like an asshole for being sad about anything else. Maybe it’s because I’m overwhelmed by everything I see, hear, read, and feel responsible for (it would be hard not be overwhelmed in the face of either wedding planning or our impending self-imposed destruction).

Whatever the reason, there have been some grey days lately. Days where doubt slowly drip-drips like icy water through your heart and you wonder what the hell you’re doing, who the hell ever made you think you could have everything you want, and how the hell you’re going to pay for all your dreams, because like it or not, most dreams have their price. Days where you worry–about your future, about your choices, about your ability to live in the future you made with your choices. About the situations in which you have no choice. Days when you feel that you’re running full speed just to stay in the same place. Days when the destination is far far away.

You don’t want to feel grey. You want the sun to break through those clouds to light up your path, with angel choirs fluttering past carrying banners that say “You’re on the right track, baby!”. You want to see Results, you want to make Progress, you want the future bright and your heart as light as air.

But that’s not today. Grey is what you have today. Maybe grey is what you have all week, or all month. Maybe that grey is so heavy right now, so persistent, that it deepens and settles in your stomach and then you have the Blues. This week, that’s my lot. I dealt with the usual culprits–I’ve been resting, I’ve been reading, and I’ve been out in the sun–but still I feel a little cloudy on the inside, whether I want to or not.

Back in August 2011, I wrote a blog post entitled And Now the Case for Being Happy. In the post I discussed happiness and the fears and struggles that came with it at that particular time. Of gratitude, I wrote, “To spend your life being merely grateful that things aren’t worse is not joyous living.”

But sometimes gratitude is all you’ve got. For most of us, it simply isn’t possible to be living joyously All The Time. Every day will bring its challenges; every sky will have its clouds. Perhaps I needed to be easier on myself. Perhaps I didn’t anticipate then some of the challenges I would have now. Perhaps there’s no one-size-fits-all, “Ten Habits of Happy People” Buzzfeed-list solution to how an individual human being might feel at any given time, when faced with any number or combination of obstacles. Perhaps feeling gratitude is the best I can do for myself right now.

Am I happy today? Not especially. Was I happy yesterday? No. But was the world beautiful? Was I loved? Am I grateful for it? Yes and yes and yes. Am I still worried? Yes. Do I have any solutions? Not today. But even when I crawl into bed at night with worry gnawing at my chest, I am crawling and worrying next to somebody I love, and I know I wouldn’t trade my problems for anyone else’s.