where the writers are
Thankful
2004

To think about the times is one of those daydreaming aspects of being a writer. We never know what will come of the moments where we find ourselves alone. It's the day after Thanksgiving and I consider an old poem. I walk along the beach collecting feathers from seagulls and looking for shells. I move quickly into the wind. Fishermen are posted here and there, clusters of surfers invigorate the dry runners moving along the boardwalk. The weather is colder than yesterday and the showers are promised to come by the evening, so for now families and couples are embracing the blues and greys of these Atlantic waters.

Solitude is a gift and to share it with the ocean is to be small and childlike again. At the water's edge there are no wars, no falling economy or thoughts of upwelling discontent. At the ocean's edge there is a lullaby of each step being erased by the tide. Nothing we do will last, nothing could stand the test of time more than a shell on this shore.

Yesterday was full of family, the glow of conversations and children making noise. Yesterday was a day of my elders telling stories. Dates and faces now faded populate the dinner table. Who has passed and how did they live, we remember them all. Wine is poured, candles flicker. Sleep comes early and this too is appropriate. A perfect night for dreaming comes after the remains of the feast have been put to memory.

I walked today along the beach and contemplated the old poem I'd written about lovers and leaving home. I was glad I had written it because I knew  I couldn't write it today. I was different then. I am different now. The lover of my poem no longer circles me daily and I no longer wish to hold him deeply. We have faded into friendship. For our memories together I am thankful. I think about him more, about the words he used in kindness, of the wicked ways I tore at him with silence. We were well matched in virtue and in vice, but hardly in timing. I laugh and pick up a shell for my collection.

I am walking North until I feel it is time to return. I've left the car parked, I couldn't possibly forget to retrieve it. So, I look at the contents of my pockets. I have a white feather, of which I have many already. I have another in dark brown. It is rich and would look good on the mantle. Lastly, there is the first treasure of today. It is the shell of a snail, that I think has been vacated. It is speckled with black on grey ridges. There is something to these overcast days, the way they are reflected in the tiniest samples of their surroundings. At the turning point I am here to say thanks, so I plant two of the feathers upright in the sand. I put down another shell and in the center I reluctantly place the half living snail. Here, at the top of the line where the tides are cresting is where I will leave these desired items. I turn to the ocean, and make my way back towards the finish, which was, of course, my start.

When considering gratitude there are the simple beginnings of what we possess and what we experience through those possessions. With people and possessions there is a need for comfort and for constancy, for the appreciation of the harvest and for the fruits of our toil. There is sharing that which we own and that which we have built. However, as I consider this all on this day's walk I can not help myself. I am equally thankful for that which I can not keep and for that which forces me to move on. It's not always what we manage to keep but what we give back. It's not only about what sits in our pockets but what can happen when we empty them. Emptiness fuels our imaginations and stokes the fires of dreams.