A Grateful Athiest
At an ungodly hour this morning, as the shower washed my hormonal nightmares away and hot water beat on my shoulders, a bubbling series of kicks spread across my stomach triggering an intense awareness: I’m pregnant! Holy fucking god! And I’m living in Manhattan, with the man I love, who loves me, and I’m pregnant and it’s Fourth of July weekend and I’m living life on my own terms and the water pressure is damn good in this apartment! Life is good. Why am I so blind to this? Why am I not more appreciative?
As a kid, I believed god accepted my fervent thank yous as payment towards my (always, I was told, overdrafted) heavenly bank account. So I said them. A lot. Thank you Hashem for that dime I found on the curb. Thank you Hashem letting super popular Michy smile at me. Thank you Hashem there’s pineapple kugel for supper tonight. Because I had so little, each small joy also meant that much more to me.
But now that my life is overflowing with goodness I think I downplay that goodness, as if there was a man in the sky tabulating all of my blessings, and if I call attention to my good fortune he’s going to balance the scales with a little more misfortune. And I guess I also get acclimated to the goodness, losing sense of its magnitude as it becomes expected.
And then I wonder, how is an atheist grateful? What does that mean? I guess it means directing the gratitude one used to reserve for god to other people, the people actually responsible for the goodness one comes across. Not only does that hopefully encourage more goodness in the world, it’s also self-serving – the more attention paid to good things, the more room they take up in one’s consciousness, the happiness one could expect to cultivate.
So, note to self: there is no man in the sky rationing my blessings but there are lots of good people responsible for the goodness I experience I need to get in the habit of thanking more.
Thanks for listening .