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Donn King


Things I'm Thankful to NOT Have

I missed my own challenge of posting a gratitude list every day for 30 days, but I still like the idea, and I'm still going to be posting gratitude lists from time to time, even beyond the 30 days. The idea behind the 30 days all along was to engender an ongoing habit. I think a lot of such lists focus on things, people, and events that the writer is glad to have, and that's perfectly legitimate. I just want to remember that on days when I may have trouble coming up with things for my gratitude list, one of the greatest resources is to think about the things, people, and event that I DON'T have. This list is all about that.

The danger is that some of these can sound flip. They're not meant to be. It's also a reminder that other people DO have some of these problems, and while I can be thankful that I don't have these specifically, I also can (in some cases) take some steps to help alleviate suffering elsewhere.

At the least, almost every entry involving something I DON'T have makes me aware of something else I DO have.

Things I'm Thankful to NOT Have

    1. Toothache.

    This could sound flip, but I'm very grateful for this. Some years ago, due to a lack of money, I went through months of excruciating pain because of not being able to afford treatment. I wound up losing a lot of teeth. I'm very grateful not only to be free of dental pain, but also to have access to good dental care now.

    2. A broken water line.

    We take running water for granted. The last time our water line broke was before we had a severely disabled child, and having no running water strained us greatly even then. I cannot imagine what it would be like now. I'm grateful the water still runs.

    3. Multiple pets.

    Don't get me wrong, I miss the pets that have "crossed the rainbow bridge." But I have to admit it was a lot harder taking care of a dog and two cats, especially since they considered each other mortal enemies. At this point we have one cat, whose personality has become decidedly more docile. While he is demanding at times (after all, he's a cat), it's not only easier to take care of one. He also affords me relaxation by allowing me to pet him for hours on end if I want.

    4. Much of a deadline.

    I have some looming, but they are days away. Most of my life I've had at least a daily deadline, and in recent years multiple deadlines a day. I'm in the process of winding down. I'm grateful to be able to spend time the way I want to in a given moment, or at least much more so than usual. I will have much more time to spend with my wife—my responsibilities in recent years have really interfered with that, and I'm looking forward to that more than anything.

    5. An empty nursing schedule.

    Our daughter requires 24/7 attention to remain safe, and for the time being has that authorized by her insurance. That's 168 hours each week. When she turns 21, the insurance will change, and they will try to cut her back to 36 hours. Don't get me started. In any case, even with authorization for 168 hours, the nursing shortage at times has led to us having to care for her for 108 hours each week on top of full-time jobs. When I get sullen over having to cover an open shift, this is a good reminder how fortunate we are to only have about 24 hours out of each week now not covered.

    6. Worries about paying the mortgage.

    a) Our financial situation is better these days so that we don't have to scramble to cover this. b) We will pay off the mortgage next month. At that point, my gratitude list can include simply "Mortgage" under things I'm grateful to not have.

    7. Any issues requiring a lawyer's advice.

    I hate dealing with lawyers. I know several good, dedicated ones, but I know a whole lot more who actively feed the stereotypes about lawyers. I've been in situations where lawyerly advice was crucial. I'm very grateful to not have any such issues right now.

    8. A broken refrigerator.

    Yes, the flip side of this is "I'm glad to have a working refrigerator." Whichever way you look at it, this is another factor of modern life that is easy to take for granted. We've had various parts to on out on more than one refrigerator, usually at the worst possible time. I'm glad ours is working right now.

    9. Debilitating disease.

    There are so many. Cancer. Covid. Alzheimer's. Parkinsons. I'm dealing with diabetes, but it is low level—my blood sugar can sometimes read in the 140s, and that's a level some diabetic relatives would have killed to achieve.

    10. Foreign soldiers in my front yard.

    When I get miffed about McDonald's having screwed up an order or some other first-world problem, my mind goes to recent news stories about what Russian soldiers are doing to Ukrainians. The specifics of the stories wrench my heart. So they forgot to take off the pickle. So what. I don't have to worry about somebody running me out of my own house so they can nest a platoon in my living room and trash everything.

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