I’m thinking we could all use a quiet week. We have somehow lurched almost entirely through a relentlessly disquieting year, likely on the cusp of another one, and a few moments of calm would be a healthy antidote. Perhaps it’s because I’m writing this from a quiet place enjoying quiet companionship, watching a robust fire and enjoying its warmth. If I were to conjure up a thankful moment, it would be this.
Yes, it’s the Thanksgiving week cliché: What are you grateful for? And why not? I feel like it’s actually a pretty good exercise, given what we have to be worried about (no inventory is necessary, I’m sure you can provide your own). It if takes a calendar date to give us pause, so be it.
When it comes to gratitude, for me the smallest things can take on the largest meanings. Being thankful is intensely personal, or should be. I try to be open to the moments — a chance encounter for a friendly conversation, a reminder of the natural beauty of this place we have the good fortune to inhabit, the simple ability to take part in an activity or social event that brings us joy and connectivity. Thankfulness isn’t about expecting those things, it’s about acknowledging them when they happen.
I feel grateful, most of all, for the opportunity to be grateful. It’s a concept that is out of reach for millions of human beings — there are so many disadvantaged, endangered and desperate among us, close by and all over the planet, whose day-to-day is all about survival.
I am thankful, this week in particular, to be back in the valley for a while. My current health challenges do not come with guarantees — recovery may take me away from here again for undetermined periods. Seattle is a noisy place, clangorous by comparison to the Methow. It makes a difference.
Unfortunately, the weekly news cycle hasn’t started quietly, as if we could realistically expect a respite from people behaving badly. It’s hard to tune out, and as a news junkie it’s even harder for me. Like many people, I sometimes feel like I’m suffering from some kind of traumatic stress disorder merely by being well-informed — and by that I mean, to reiterate a point that is necessary to keep making, by reliable sources. It’s difficult enough do deal with the truth, let alone the horrific din of lies being howled from the darkest political corners. I’m trying to park the hot headlines for a few days, but honestly it will be difficult.
It helps to know that, with Winthrop’s Christmas at the End of the Road celebration highlighting the weekend, some non-clamorous time can be had. The popular local event is a low-key way to take time out from the world’s rush — all you have to do is show up and wander around, until it’s time to ooh and aah at the fireworks show (that’s a noisy few minutes I don’ t mind).
Coming out of the relatively serenity of the fall shoulder season, we can now expect the pace of things pick up through the end of the year. That in itself is something to be thankful for — our community relies on the energy of its residents and the enthusiasm of its visitors. But before joining the hum and the buzz of the holidays, my wish for all of us is that we find a few quiet moments to remind us of the value of serenity, however we may find it.