Colm O'Regan: of gratitude in an uncertain time

Colm O'Regan: of gratitude in an uncertain time

Gratitude. I’m grateful I found out about it actually. I had always thought of gratitude as a sort of fuzzy nice-to-have. That in today’s dog eat dog world, an alpha-male mover and shaker like me hasn’t time to be writing thank you cards. But scientists now say gratitude is the real deal.

Gratitude can boost serotonin and dopamine in your brain. Basically, it’s a free drug. Knowing this puts it in the category of Things I Might Actually Do. Especially now, when the future is so uncertain and I am liable to start freaking out.

I must be careful though about broadcasting my gratitude. Others annoy me with their gratitude for things I currently can’t have. Like their coastal walk. So when I think about what I’m publicly grateful for, I may annoy you. There are some things I’m grateful for I won’t tell you.

But these four, I would write in my hypothetical gratitude journal. And hopefully they won’t piss you off.

The weather. Like seriously. The schools, playschools and childminders closed on March 13th. Since then I’ve counted only two or three crap days. IN 8 WEEKS. 8 weeks during a time of year when the weather is usually at its most capricious and prickish. Also the moons. Clear and clean skies mean we have some seriously moony moonage. At least we got outside from time to time.

The food and the essentials. The frontline workers rightly get all the applause but also someone is making sure there is food out there. Cheap, dear, fresh, frozen. Someone is rearing/growing/killing/cutting/sorting/packing/shipping/loading/unloading/pricing/inventor-ing/stacking/selling it. And most of us haven’t starved. I took it for granted before. Some things have changed. Deli counters aren’t as common so I make my own chicken fillet wraps. It’s not as filthy though because home ‘sauce’ is never as tasty as deli sauce.

I’m grateful about weird things like that, in all of ‘this’ I won’t be blaming myself. I remember the last recession. I spent a lot of time blaming myself for buying a house at the wrong time. That regret used up a lot of energy. I mean, it didn’t stop me going kite-surfing. I had no intention of going kite-surfing. But for a long time, as house prices collapsed around me, it was all I thought about. Colm, you mug.

At least this time I can blame a virus. Now depending on who you are listening to, there are a litany of people I could blame including All Of Humanity’s habit of destroying Nature and releasing mad zoonotics. Maybe there are those who could have acted sooner and better but the main thing is I won’t be blaming me. There’s no negative emotional equity in this for me. if the economy takes a decade to get out of it and we’re eating Lidl potato waffles till the children do their Leaving then we’ll do so in the spirit of Not my fault.

And lastly, I was very lucky with my housemates. The family. Although we’re sometimes cross with each other, it turns out we all got stranded with the most suitable people to be stranded with. There were no surprises that you only find out when everyone is stuck in the house. The four-year-old doesn’t secretly smoke even though the ad said ‘NS’. The two-year-old doesn’t walk into a room and stare at us for an hour. We’ll probably renew the lease. Although we look forward to seeing other people.

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