Lately, the writing well has been dry. I’m not sure why. I’ve been in an antisocial mood, alternately longing to curl up in bed alone with a book or to travel somewhere new where I don’t know anything and no one knows me. I go through these moods sometimes and it’s tough because relief only ever comes in a daydream. Meanwhile I go to work and act sociable, and then I go to the gym, and then I eat dinner with my husband, and then maybe I’ll try to check a few things off my to do list, and then I do it all over again. Gratitude is not at the top of my mind.
But today I read an essay by Delia Ephron, published in the New York Time op ed section this past weekend, and a little light bulb went off. My frustration with trend pieces about women “having it all” has reached a peak lately, mostly because these articles are annoying and narrowly focused, but also because they make me nervous and I hate that. I do not need any more anxiety in my life. Which is why this essay sparked something in me. After discussing the statistical impossibility of having it all in the first place, Ephron writes, “To me, having it all — if one wants to define it at all — is the magical time when what you want and what you have match up.”
“Well now,” I thought to myself, “Isn’t that gratitude?” I’m still exploring all the nuances of gratitude, but I think this is one of them. After all, gratitude means that you don’t want things to be any different than they are, and in that shining moment you feel lucky or even blessed to be so content. Ephron describes a few of these times:
It might be a fleeting moment — drinking a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning when the light is especially bright. It might also be a few undisturbed hours with a novel I’m in love with, a three-hour lunch with my best friend, reading “Goodnight Moon” to a child, watching a Nadal-Federer match. Having it all definitely involves an ability to seize the moment, especially when it comes to sports.
It’s all the encouragement I need to drink a cup of coffee in bed this weekend (or go buy a piece of cake from my favorite bakery) and know that I really do have it all, at least for a little while.