November is officially Gratitude Month, according to the internet (so it must be true). I don’t know where it started, but a few years ago, it was popular on Facebook to list something for which you were grateful every day of the month. I liked it, and I have continued playing even as my friends have all moved on to fighting about politics.
It’s very easy to do, once you stop writing obvious lists like, “my husband, my kids, my job, my…” and start thinking about what makes you smile: a shaft of sunlight on your bedroom floor or the susurration of leaves in the wind.
We all understand that we can always find something to complain about. Therefore the obverse must also be true: there is something for which to be grateful. It may be a small pinprick of light in a dark world, but it’s there.
Paying attention to the happiness-producing things in my life makes me see more of them, which is why I’m so grateful for this Gratitude Month thing.
Gratitude has nothing to do with objective reality. If it did, I’d be swearing right now, since my back has been out all week.
But that allows me more time to read than usual. Indeed, my last gratitude-insight occurred late last night when I read this letter from an artist to agony aunt Mary Killen in The Spectator. Most artists understand the problem of being broke in the company of wealthier people, but that isn’t what made me laugh aloud. It was when Killen suggested that the writer pretend to want to paint nocturnes at supper-time. “You can splodge away while they are out. You never know, you might learn something.”
That’s a winning solution, even by Killen’s devilishly clever standards. How does she understand the artist’s mind so well? It turns out that the queen of advice to posh Britons has been married for 28 years to painter Giles Wood. Their house is so run down it’s called “the grottage” by their circle of friends.
And he’s a very good painter. His drawing is lovely, his paint handling is economical, and he seems to be using a half-box easel that’s missing its tray. His website badly needs a redesign and his studio appears to be a mess. Dude, you’re one of us!