Thankful and Grateful and Mindful

ar-lobster-02Tis the season of giving thanks. Or perhaps of giving gratitude. I’ve been thinking about this some–not least because Thursday is the American Thanksgiving, which really should not just be about food, but somehow always is (OK, maybe a smidge about the Macy’s parade, and in some households about football, or not killing Uncle Pete who always arrives drunk and has unfortunate opinions), but because I listened to a piece on NPR about a Japanese discipline of mindful thankfulness, which sounds like something I want more of in my life.

As I was showering this morning I said “God, I love hot water.” Because being able to take even a drought-mindful hot shower every morning is what makes mornings possible. I am thankful for hot water, for the fact that generations of thought and genius have gone into the knowledge of how to get water in to my house, and heated, without my having to carry buckets, stoke fires, or do anything more taxing than turn a knob and wait 60 seconds for the water to heat up. I’ve been celebrating hot water (and flush toilets) for years; when you spend a good part of your childhood in a Barn that is awaiting plumbing, that’s perhaps natural. But look: there’s the world, and so much of it is just damned miraculous. Some of the miracle is nature or whatever you ascribe the beauty and awfulness of nature to (I’m still on the fence, and may be forever).  And a lot of it is those generations of inspired scientists and technologists and smart people who said “hey, you know what would keep the rain from soaking us to the skin? a roof!” Or the hungry guy who first looked at a lobster and said “Hey, boil it, crack it, serve it with a little melted butter!” Thanks, Lobster Guy.

Grateful, according to my desktop dictionary, means “feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness.” Gratitude is about appreciating something done by another. Thankful, according to the same source, means “pleased and relieved, or grateful and relieved.” There is plenty to appreciate, or feel relieved about, in this crazy old world, but I’m really focussed, right now, on that “mindful” thankfulness. The roof doesn’t actually care whether it’s doing its job for you; it’s a roof. But I can be mindfully thankful, with heavy rain forecast, that I have a roof, that it does a good job, and protects me and mine.


About Madeleine E. Robins

Madeleine Robins is the author of The Stone War, Point of Honour, Petty Treason, and The Sleeping Partner (the third Sarah Tolerance mystery, available from Plus One Press). Her Regency romances, Althea, My Dear Jenny, The Heiress Companion, Lady John, and The Spanish Marriage are now available from Book View Café. Sold for Endless Rue , an historical novel set in medieval Italy, was published in May 2013 by Forge Books


Thankful and Grateful and Mindful — 5 Comments

  1. My sweetheart is an expert in all things about hot water. He’s working right now on projects to improve the energy efficiency of hot water systems so that we can continue to have it in the future without contributing to climate change. Just to let you know that you can be grateful to or thankful for all the smart engineers who are improving the systems that give us those very important little luxuries like hot water.

    • I totally am thankful and grateful for the smart engineers who are finding ways to give us those little luxuries… and who are finding ways to keep the world from succumbing to climate change.

  2. After a number of home-renovation adventures I am grateful for the craftsmen who do it right. For the man who knows how to set a shower stall pan, the man who knows how to install ridge moulding on a roof. I am deeply grateful that the man who put the tires on my car was sober at the time.

  3. In keeping with the theme of daily ablutions, in addition to hot water I’m thankful for kleenex, toilet paper and modern feminine hygiene products. Oh, and toothpaste. And dental floss.

    I’m also thankful for refrigeration, but that’s another section of the house entirely.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a nod to electricity. We tend to take that for granted until a storm knocks the power out. In the middle of winter.