I’m working on gratitude. I’ve heard that’s a key to happiness, that appreciating what you’ve got is a prerequisite to getting what you want—stuff or a situation or condition or whatever. Uh huh.

That’s fine in theory, and usually I can find a way to think about what’s going on for me right now that pleases me. When I feel like I’m up to my ass in alligators, though, it’s not easy to be glad they’re not up to my chest, at least not right away.

It’s easy to be grateful for the people who love me, because they’re invariably people I love. I’m starting to think there’s a connection, that love elicits love, calls it out from the universe. Wouldn’t it be something if that’s true?

I’m often grateful for my body. I’ve been acquainted with it a long time now, and I remember things it could do back in the day that are completely out of the question now. And I have an especially good body, one that has always served me well, like my Civic, except my car’s in better shape. So I tend to be disappointed when I’m taking the long view, just because things ain’t what they used to be. As a child, I had a twinge of nostalgia when I realized I was too big to squeeze between the curvy legs of our dining-room table. Twinges come easy for me.

Then I see somebody who’s clearly physically much worse off than I, and I don’t mind not running up stairs. I can walk up. That’s why I love seeing big, fat people, the ones who waddle. I often feel like a whale, beached and bloated. When I run across a waddler, though, I feel much better, lithe and supple. Maybe not supple.

For the same reasons, I’m starting to let ignoramuses, of whom there are plenty and more graduating every year, amuse me, rather than annoy me—quite an improvement. I’m continually grateful that I went to school a long time ago, when children could still get left behind and escape.

I’m always grateful, especially early in the morning while I’m waking up, for another crack at reality without concepts, right here in the moment. Very tricky. Notions are easy. Reality is hard. I need a lot of do-overs.

Nowadays I’m grateful for George W. Bush. The way things are—namely Congress, corporate media, and the masses on whom they depend—George W. Bush and his cronies and toadies could have gotten away with pretty much anything. They could have told people anything at all and nobody would’ve said boo. Saying boo would’ve been unpatriotic and made you a suspect. So I give thanks that Bush and the rest are only greedy and mean, and only sometimes dumb as a brick. Of course, it’s not over yet, and they still have firepower.

I’m also grateful for being able to use cronies and toadies in the same sentence.