Tag Archives: gratitude

Dear Readers,

It’s a Saturday night, I’m at the coffee shop, and the girl at the open mic is singing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of the Year,” which is a lie because it’s winter, and winter is not summer. Have I ever told you how much I hate winter? And bad sopranos?

Anyway, it’s as good a time as any to tell you where I’ve been for the last couple of months.

I think it started with the Patreon account, which sounded like a good idea until I realized that I put enough pressure on myself even when nobody’s paying me to write. So I got rid of it, and immediately felt a weight lift off my shoulders.

Then I wondered if I might feel even lighter if I eased up on the pressure a bit more by not holding myself to one post per week. So I tried letting that slide, and I did feel lighter.

Then I had this beautiful idea of stopping indefinitely. I noticed that it was a beautiful idea, which implied that the act of writing had become somehow unbeautiful to me.

So I decided to stop, and felt like Peter Parker when he quits being Spiderman and just gets to go traipsing around New York, thinking about science and ignoring robberies and exhibiting a level of confidence all out of proportion to his attractiveness.

After a few weeks, I found that I really liked not writing, and liked it so much that I decided to keep doing it. I hope this doesn’t mean Alfred Molina will be coming for my girlfriend, but, you know.

I’ve been meaning to write an official goodbye, except I didn’t want to give the impression that it was Goodbye Forever, but I also didn’t mean to give the impression that it wasn’t Goodbye Forever, and I didn’t want to just dash something off in case it was forever, because if it was forever then I wouldn’t want to go out sloppily, would I?

Well, it’s probably not going to get any better than this particular sloppy post, so let it be known: I have no plans to write here anymore, but I have no plans not to, either. I just don’t know what’s next, for the blog or for anything. I’ve been reading The Seven Storey Mountain with great enthusiasm, but that’s neither here nor there.

Buuut whyyyy? This is the way I described it to Father T: When you burn incense, it smells good and makes the air thick and rises up to Heaven. Then eventually it’s gone, and it’d be silly to keep sticking coals in the censer, because there’s nothing left to burn and you’re just making scorch marks. I don’t know why there’s nothing left to burn, but there isn’t, and that’s okay with me, because I feel like I burned it real good and made a nice stink.

It’s hard to imagine a life without any kind of writing ever, so whenever the next thing comes along, I will let you know here what it is. Till then, the site won’t be disappearing, and I’ll still be available at steve[dot]gershom[at]gmail[dot]com for anything you’d like to bend my ear about. Within reason. I intend to answer your emails at least as slowly as I ever have, and just as surely.

It’s been a very great blessing to write for you, and to have had your support and encouragement and affection and prayers all this time. Thank you!

Peace & prayers,
Joseph “Steve Gershom” Prever

bye

The best (according to me) tweets I have twitted over the course of the previous week or so, as a momentary stay against the essential evanescence of twitter.

I heard a nice idea from my sister: every time something happens that you’re really thankful for, you write it on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. Then, at the end of the year, you read the pieces of paper, to remember all the good things.

I think I missed some big ones — I guess I forgot to keep putting stuff in the jar — and some of the things are on a whole nother level than others (like apparently I was really excited about my new car), but here are my 2013 scraps, not in chronological order but just in the order that I happened to take them out of the jar. They are only slightly expurgated.

  • I got a Jetta.

It feels a little silly that this is the top of the list, but it is a cool car, and it’s bright red besides.

  • I told [x] I was attracted to him. He still wanted to be friends.

This was a first for me. As with so, so many other things, it was much less of a big deal in real life than it had been in my mind. Months later, the attraction isn’t really an issue, and we’re still friends. So.

  • [x] visited me, and we talked more deeply than we’ve ever talked before.

[x] and I have been friends for sixteen years. Somehow we had never rolled up our sleeves and compared scars before.

  • I came out publicly, and received a tremendous outpouring of love and support.

Yayuh. I’m not sorry that I waited so long, because my right time was my right time. But it’s awfully nice out here in the breeze and sunshine.

  • I am attracted to women, and some more than others.

Still true, but nothing to really write home about.

  • I started the SEAL workout with Ryan Gooseling.

Highly recommended.

  • I got my green sash.

Our school goes: white, yellow, green, purple, blue, brown, black. I currently stand at purple-with-a-blue-stripe, or “purple-and-a-half”, but that’s not nearly as close to black as it sounds. Long road ahead of me, and I plan to see it through.

  • I entered the Wu Dao tournament — my first. Placed first in forms, second in sparring.

To be fair, there were only two other guys in my sparring division.

  • [x] was going to leave but decided to stay.

[x] is a coworker who became an unexpectedly big part of my life. If he had quit, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but still, phew!

  • I sat and talked with [x] and [x] about porn and masturbation and homosexuality for hours. Till 2 in the morning. They understood it all.

More scar-sharing, and it’s always cool when straight guys have scars in the same spots as me.

  • After I had quit smoking for a week, everybody at the kwoon clapped for me.

Now I’m at seven months and counting. Dare I say that the hard part is over?

  • I became friends with Ryan Gooseling.

Unexpected blessings are the best kind.

  • I went contact-improv dancing with [x].

Okay, okay, it was fun, but it did have more flailing than I am comfortable with, and I still don’t like hipsters.

2013 saw, oddly, an apparent ending to the kind of misery that I used to think was a permanent fixture in my life. I’m sure the Black Dog will pay me a visit or two in the future, but depression is no longer a defining characteristic in my life.

Can I just say: holy shit, you guys, for somebody who was depressed pretty much every day for about fifteen years, that’s kind of a big deal. Do you even know how good it feels to go whole weeks or even months without wanting to die? Did you even know that could happen? It’s neat!

In 2014, I plan to discover what kind of adventures are possible when your primary goal is no longer just to keep the agony down to a dull roar. I’m excited.

In case you didn’t hear, I’ve officially gone part time at my Day Job (the one I don’t plan to quit any time soon), which leaves me a whole blank Friday every single week for writing and related things. This is my first such Friday.

The idea, of course, is to write more: more often, more widely, and more extensively. I don’t know what that’s going to look like yet. One update a week? Two? Articles in print and on other blogs? We’ll see. If you’d like to send up a prayer that I learn to use this new time well, I’d appreciate it a lot.

I’m excited and daunted and grateful. Which makes me less daunted, because what starts in gratitude can’t help but go well.

To my relief, I wake up too late for Mass this morning. More sleep means less surliness, and less effort spent ignoring my resentment at the priest who sings off-key and the parishioners who ad-lib the responses to make them just a little bit more feminist.

I’m trailing a cloud of melancholy from bad dreams: something to do with wounds, accusations, betrayal of trust. I know from long experience that the daily routine washes these things away. This was my salvation as a teacher: no matter how dark things were in the morning, five minutes into Algebra II and I’d forget whatever was gnawing at me, buoyed up by the energy flowing between me and my students, buoyed up also by the chapel that adjoined my morning classroom.

Some years ago, on New Year’s Day in Father T.’s private chapel, I asked the Lord how I could make things different this year, how I could keep from going round in endless circles, steer clear of the trap of quiet desperation that had always terrified me.

He told me to give him half an hour a day, which I have been doing — more or less — ever since.

At first that meant silent prayer, sitting in the dark in my bedroom at home, in an easy chair no less, trying to keep my mind clear and see where the Lord would take me: which resulted variously in tears, boredom, anger, joy, astonishment, emptiness, or just a solid half hour of trying not to think about sex too much.

Sometimes I’d spend the half hour before the Blessed Sacrament; one of my first tasks, whenever I’ve moved to a new town, has been to find an Adoration chapel.

I’ve made adjustments to our contract (covenant?) since then, but kept the basics. Silent prayer can be traded for daily Mass; and either, if I’m not feeling up to meeting the Lord’s gaze quite so directly, can be traded for spiritual reading, journaling — even sometimes blogging.

Missing Mass this morning meant making up for it this evening. I procrastinate a bit, pay some bills, and retire to my Writing Cave in the attic. I take out my Bible, my Josef Pieper, my journal.

My goodness, it’s the last page. I look at the first one: how old is this journal? How far have I come? The first entry is dated June 26, 2011. It’s too maudlin to reproduce here, but it’s full of a quiet complaint: I am lonely; I have been lonely so long; when will I stop being lonely? Are others so lonely? Is there something wrong with me, that I’m so lonely? Is there anything ahead but more loneliness?

I’m astonished to find that things are not like that now. I write in my journal a record of gratitude, looking around my mental landscape to see how many people I love, how many love me: Thank you, Lord, for J and B and A and B and M and J and C and N; Thank you for Father T; Thank you for my family.

Now my question is different. Do others have so many to love, so many who love them? Why have I been given so much? Why doesn’t everyone have a Father T, someone to call at any hour? Why doesn’t everyone have friends around them who surprise them with more welcome and understanding than they can believe?

I don’t understand my own heart. In the midst of gratitude I still feel the ache of the old grudge: if I’m done for the moment being angry at Him for seeming to abandon me, now I complain that He gives me too much, and not enough to the so-many others who need help so badly.

O Lord our God, says the antiphon from Monday’s Compline, Unwearied is your love for us.

It’s a good thing, too.