>While I love turkey (although the tryptophan only makes my narcolepsy more fun) and my sister makes incredible desserts, I have realized over the last few years that the best thing about Thanksgiving is the opportunity to step back and honestly ponder the many gifts in my life. While narcolepsy (and chronic sinusitis and anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome) makes every day difficult, the reality is that I am daily deluged with gifts.
The greatest gift (other than life itself) is my beautiful wife. She makes each day sing. Whether we are snuggled tightly in our bed, or crossly vying with each other over the best way to do something, she makes each moment better. Her smile ignites my heart, and her body and intellect does the same in other places. Best of all, she truly is my dearest friend. I trust no one, perhaps not even myself, to the level that I do with her. She is cute and sexy and weird and hilarious and endearing and brilliant and annoying and driven and relaxed and glorious – usually at the same moment. While we clash on a daily basis, I am overjoyed that I continue to grow in my abilities to hear her side, disagree appropriately, eventually find resolution with her, and love her passionately throughout the ordeal. Better still, though, are the moments when we look at each other and know that everything is right. Those instances are fleeting, but their magic can last for days.
A close second is my daughter. As she enters her teenage years, I worry a great deal about who she might become, but I also know that I can’t control that. What I do know is that if she becomes even a fraction of the person she is today, I will be related to one of the most amazing people in the world. Daily, my daughter stuns me with the enthusiasm and brilliance and creativity and energy and compassion and sense of justice. While I often struggle to appreciate the whirlwind of her, I know that my love continues to grow by leaps and bounds. She is a remarkable young woman. She will become who she is meant to be; I am simply glad to have a chance to tag along for the ride.
Reflecting on those two gifts alone would be enough to know that my life is good, but my bounty seems to overflow. I almost want to feel guilty because there is so much that is good in my life. Fortunately, I am learning to accept what is freely given and to do so without regret. Whether it is the incredible friendship and love of my sister and her husband (particularly when she cooks up another amazing Thanksgiving feast), or the kindest and offbeat humor of my mother-in-law and father-in-law (who are kind enough to still come to visit, even in the midst of their grieving), I shower in love on a daily basis.
I am filled with awe and wonder by all of the following and more – my friend and colleagues and students at school, the stunningly wonderful folks of MOONS, the magnanimous moderators and members and organizers of Narcolepsy Network and its forums, the devoted and earnest members of my men’s group, the talented geniuses that I “teach” at MITY, the global and astute contributors to the narcolepsy support groups on Facebook and MySpace, my compassionate and fiery friends on tba and in the ultimate community as a whole, the gifted educators and friends and parents who interact with my daughter every day, my blessed medical providers – those of traditional Western medicine and those of the more Eastern mindsets.
No doubt, my life is difficult. This chronic condition makes each day a struggle, but I am fortunate. Not only do I have all of these wonderful people in my world, but I am also able to find fulfillment doing what I love. People pay me to talk to teenagers. I am even able to do it part-time. I would never wish my life on another, but I also would never trade it. I can see God’s grace in everything around me.
Before I end this, I need to recognize a few other gifts that are vitally important to me. Clearly, my parents and extended family are integral to who I have become and continue to become. I have often railed against my parents, but I know I am fortunate because their love for me has given me a deeper inner strength that has allowed me to start walking this path to more balance. Also, I must own that God has given all of this to me. I would be nothing without God’s love. I generally try to avoid injecting my faith into these posts because I don’t want to preach, but my faith is a tremendous source of comfort for me. In the same vein, I must acknowledge that random chance has hand in letting me get this far. While being born into the United States is not a guarantee of success, it certainly helps many people. And, when one is lucky enough to be male and white and heterosexual, the odds shift even more clearly into your favor. Yes, my own energy has gone into everything that I have done in this world, but I live in a system that has been pre-weighted to favor my sex and my skin color and my sexual preference. I don’t see those gifts in the same way that I see so many of the others listed here, but I know that I needed to name them. Invariably, I must offer thanks for the gift of those who read this blog. So often, I tell my students, “don’t mention the paper in the paper,” but this situation is different. I have never been able to journal before, but I have continued to use this blog for MONTHS – regularly (well, a hiatus has happened here and there when life has overwhelmed me). That too is a gift. The difference is that I know others are reading this too. While this writing is for me, I also feel that I owe all of you. Some of you are kind enough to check out a post or two; others read it regularly. A few of you are even crazy enough to leave comments. Regardless of who you are and how often you are here, no words can express my gratitude for your time and attention. It has definitely helped to save my life. Thank you for being a part of my many blessings. And, last (and maybe also least), I must offer thanks for my narcolepsy. While it is ridiculous and rotten, this condition has allowed me to learn more about who I am and what I truly value than anything else in my life.