From now to Thanksgiving this year I am going to post a series of seven gratitudes because I am trying to come to some kind of clarity about this particular span of my life in which, in fact, everything is okay. Everything is good. I’m healthy and happy and I am able to enjoy the amazing good fortune of my life. I have been reading about people who have suffered from blindness—Homer, John Milton, Jorge Luis Borges, Galileo Galiliei—and the different responses they made in dealing with their affliction. They were all amazing people and how they dealt with their problems has been inspiring and instructive, Borges in particular. One thing I took away from his essay, “Blindness,” I want to relate here because it is particularly relevant to my gratitudes.
Referring to Rudolf Steiner, Borges relates in his essay, “He said that when something ends, we must think that something begins. His advice is salutary, but the execution is difficult, because we only know what we have lost, not what we will gain. We have a very precise image—an image at times shameless—of what we have lost, but we are ignorant of what may follow or replace it.”
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With every goodbye you learn.