Friday, April 6, 2012

Blessings Counted

The less interesting thing tonight is that I'm typing these words on my iPhone using a borrowed bluetooth keyboard. That's only interesting to me, and one wonders then why I include it here, but maybe it's about trying to pack lighter and do with what I have and can borrow. I didn't want to bring a ton of things with me on this trip and so I left the laptop at home. Still, I wanted to be able to write and publish daily, so here's the compromise. So far so good. I'm sitting in bed with the keyboard and phone propped on the concierge book, listening to The Brad Mehldau Trio's take on "Black Hole Sun" while sipping a vodka on ice and writing to you from just outside Zion National Park. Life is quite good. And that's the more interesting thing to think of tonight: Life really is quite good and I came to know that even more than I already knew because I had a lovely chat with an even lovelier woman yesterday on the flight from Syracuse to Chicago. She teaches art in the city schools and has for sixteen years, she has five children, the youngest of whom is enrolled at Syracuse University, and she was flying with her two elderly parents out to Los Angeles to visit her grandchildren, their great grandchildren. We got to talking about a great deal, finding that we live just around the corner from one another, are both teachers, and have deep connections to the Syracuse area. More than that, at least in the moment, we were both feeling as though life had blessed us. A word first about blessings since I'm in a place where people have often invoked God and all that sort of thing. My blessings aren't God given and I hope that doesn't offend anyone. Neither are blessings the work of luck. I find my blessings all around when I am aware of what is happening in the world and yesterday, both the woman I was speaking with and I were very aware of how good life has been and continues to be for us. We still have hard times, there's no doubt of that, but hard times, sadness, and even depression are not exclusive, they do not push blessings permanently off the stage. My blessings begin with my family. My wife, Stephanie, is becoming dearer to me with each passing day. And, to dispell any notions that I am trading in cliche here, I will tell you that we have had our tough times, that we still struggle with so very many things, and that our relationship isn't easy. Maybe because of all that, I find myself more in love with her and with our marriage today than I was yesterday. Add to that my daughters. The eldest and I spent Wednesday evening's drive home from Hebrew school laughing hysterically after she claimed that she could say banana really fast. Wanna hear? she asked. I did. So she said, blehblehblehblehbleh so fast that her tongue was wagging out of her mouth. I told her there was a long way between banana and blehbleh and that almost no one sticks their tongue out of their mouth saying the word banana. So we said bleh-bleh all the way home, our tongues wagging, and our laughter carrying us. My other daughter, as her Jewish mother tried to explain the mysteries of Easter, said that after Jesus died he came back as a bunny, right? And her favoite thing is to say, ready, Daddy, before running the length of the room and vaulting into my arms. My brother lives just a couple miles away and comes over often. Monday night he comes for dinner and delights the girls, my wiffe and me. He simply cannot do enough for us, it seems. Our girls, I'm afraid, play him for all he's worth. And he loves it. My parents too are nearby, having moved back to Syracuse, and we get to see them often. They were even able to give my friend and me a ride to the airport so that we could come here. And this is the place in which I want to, for tonight at least, count my last blessing. I am sitting in a hotel room just outside Zion National Park which is the most beautiful place I've ever seen. I spent the afternoon hiking and exploring and tomorrow I get to climb to the top of Angels Landing. But wait, then, in a couple days I get to go to the Grand Canyon. The blessings keep coming. And there is nothing to do but welcome them, hike in this perfect place, and write on.