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"Chronicle Groupie"
Hyperion November 30, 2000

#13 Gratitude Attitude

Last week I went to Ohio to see the family. It was by all accounts a successful visit. I stayed long enough to see everyone and enjoy their presence, but not so long that I would not want to come back, or cause the family to move in an attempt to hide from me upon my return (at least, I hope). As my plane home ascended to full altitude, I watched with wonder the cloud layer that coated the air right below us. Like light gray asbestos insulating an attic, the clouds ruffled and bunched in patches, but presented a united front. It was as if we were flying scant feet above the ground-eerie and mysterious-yet magical at the same time. Tiny clouds, escaped from their brethren, floated by the plane windows on some secret journey. The whole scene was ethereal, quiet, and calming. Up there, all seemed right with the world. Then I came home.

I turned on the television to find-Surprise!-the Middle East is still a Chair full of Bowlies. The Israelis, whom you may recall I have advocated supporting, were chopping down ancient sacred Arab Olive trees in retaliation for some bombing, and were generally set on messing up the Islamic Holy season. The Palestinians were still employing their time-honored technique of terrorist bombings (cowardly acts, in my book) and Public Confrontations, in which they employed a battle strategy I like to call "Throwing Rocks at People with Machine Guns." Sigh. When will there be Peace in the Middle East?

About 2 days before we have a new president, if the current trend continues. William Butler said, "No man is defeated until he admits he is." Words to live by, apparently. You know you are getting tired when you start thinking even another four years of Clinton would be better than this. I have committed, however, to not write another Political Column until we do have a president, even if that takes until '04. Instead, while I am still basking the glow of post-family visit (or maybe it was the radiation from the turkey), I want to write some more on thankfulness. You may have read my Thanksgiving Column, which was devoted to the subject. Well, I have more to say. So, sit there and like it, and thanks.

At the Thanksgiving Eve service I attended, my father spoke of vocalizing gratitude. This inspired me to undergo a Herculean task. I went through my email address book and attempted to write virtually everyone and tell him or her one thing I was thankful for about him or her. I was not able to catch everybody. Some people I did not have in my address book yet. To you, I am thankful you are recent additions to my correspondence. My flatmates I mostly omitted; they are homophobic enough as it is. My supervisors at work were left out because they do not go for a lot of flattery-and they already know they are they greatest people since Jesus, or at least Elvis. A few were omitted because they are major Journalists who do not know me personally, and I only send them the column because I respect their opinions. To any one else omitted, know this: what I am most thankful about YOU is your understanding nature, and an ability to forgive unintentional slights:) As for everyone else: this was truly a humbling process for me. I did not realize, until I had already set my parameters, that some of the people on my list are estranged to me right now. I spent no few moments in contemplation, thinking about this. I decided that despite the discomfort, a commitment was a commitment. Besides which, there were things I was thankful for about them-or I never would have known them in the first place. I am glad I took this course. I feel refreshed, and at peace; the way you are when you have done the right thing. Even if I never hear from them again, I left the situation in a way I can be proud of.

Further awe was to come my way. I heard from people I have rarely or never heard from. I was not even sure they were getting this column. It is amazing to me how far a few words of appreciation, sincerely given, can go. Some of the responses I received filled me with tears, as people told me of being unused to having anyone say anything nice about them. Why am I telling you this? Two reasons. First, the people you know need to be told what they mean to you. You may think they know, BUT THEY NEED TO BE TOLD. You will affect people you never expected to. Some of the strongest-looking and sounding people are hurting on the inside and feel nobody cares. Tell them you do. Second, this will do wonders for you. I guarantee that you will get responses. Moreover, it might help you improve relationships. Maybe you no longer speak to several people. You have had a falling out; words were spoken, feelings were hurt. I am not asking you to bake them a casserole. I am asking you to dig deep (more puppy), and find something you admire about the person, or something you are thankful for. If nothing comes of it-you will have done the right thing, and it will do wonders for your soul. And, who knows? Perhaps there will be a thawing of the ice. Perhaps there will be reconciliation. Perhaps there will be wild, hot monkey love. Just remember to name the first born after me; I gave you the idea.

Go forth with a Gratitude Attitude

And thanks for all your support

November 30, 2000


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