About five years ago, I stumbled upon an industry of psychologists who promoted the many benefits of gratitude. Grateful people, they claimed, are happier and healthier. They recommended keeping a “gratitude journal.” I tried but it didn’t work. I rarely had a palpable, physical experience of gratitude, just didn’t seem to be built for it. But lately, mulling over my diabetes has made it easier to give thanks. One benefit of living for decades with a chronic disease is that it yields a trove of people and incidents that are raw material for a quickening of the heart.
In the summer of 1977, when I was 23, I washed ashore to my parents’s house in Woodbridge, Connecticut after spending my first year out of college teaching in the Caribbean. I had a broken ankle, memories of a love affair that had gone very badly, no clue about how to earn a living and frequent visits from what Churchill, my second favorite depressive after Abraham Lincoln, famously called the “black dog.” During my first week in Woodbridge, I had some furious arguments with my stepfather. His dry cleaning business was failing, and he was as glum as I was about the universe. So he was understandably unable to welcome the sulking, semi-grown-up step-son sprawled on his living room couch. [Read more…] about Hypoglycemia Chronicle #1: Thanks, Popeye