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10 things I’m grateful for

This article was originally published on June 8, 2011.

 I’m going to be frank. (What else would I be, right?) I am a complainer. A big complainer. A moan and groaner. I suck my teeth and roll my eyes and mumble and grumble and hold my head every day God sends. I look at the dark side, not the bright side. The glass is half empty, every time. I am a miserable man. I remember every bad thing that’s happened to me and I’ve forgotten most of the good. So, today I want to practice gratitude. Before God strikes me down and lays me low for being an ingrate. I am blessed. I don’t say it to be boastful. I am saying so I can believe. I AM BLESSED! I AM BLESSED!

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that in times like these, with food and gas prices so high and men killing each other almost daily, and the general sense of stagnation choking all the air out of our lungs, I want to focus on what’s still good in life and what’s been good too. So here goes, 10 things I’m grateful for in my life.

1. I am grateful for the hairy mango tree across the street from my house. The hairy mango is my favorite fruit in the whole entire world. I don’t have a hairy mango tree. But mangoes from that tree across the street end up in my bottomless belly courtesy of my neighbor, who gathers them up every morning and asks me to take as many as I can. Life is good. Thirty years ago I had to teef to eat the things, now people askin’ me to take um. Blessed, I tell you.

2. I am grateful for the Poincianas in full bloom. Have you noticed them? Aren’t they absolutely stunning. You can’t drive anywhere on the island without seeing them. They’re positively brilliant.

3. I am grateful that my last son is bow-legged and gap toothed. The first two don’t look like me at all. But this last one, Isaiah? He’s a Crooked Island and Acklins man.

4. I am grateful that even at 42 years of age I can spend time watching Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3-D at Galleria Cinemas and enjoy it. DON’T JUDGE ME!

5. I am grateful for the scarlet plum tree. When I was in junior high I scratched the name of my first love in that tree’s bark. And the tree is still here 30 years later. And the scarlet plums are just as sweet.

6. I am grateful for the slow sunsets of summer. It feels like it’s not really dark til 9 p.m. I’m probably wrong about that but that’s how it feels. The hours of 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. are just magical. Lovely time for a drive along the shore. Even better time for a swim.

7. Speaking of swimming, I’m grateful for the “Biggest Wave Ever.” That’s what my boys call it. We were at Saunders Beach and I stubbornly took them in the water on a rough day. Boys like waves. They’re exciting. So, in we went. Well, anyway, we stayed in that water for one wave too many and it occurred to me as my legs were pulled out from under me and my sons and I went under that if I wasn’t careful my wife was going to be hearing about us on the evening news. Trust me, I didn’t know so much sand could get lost in my swim trunks. There was a pile of it in the shower when I got home. Note to self: next time turn the car around, endure the tears and buy ice cream.

8. And speaking of the kids, last weekend I flew a kite for the first time in my life. Forty-two years of kitelessness, ended. In fact, I was about to give up after 30 minutes of the kite going absolutely nowhere. The 5 o’clock sun was cooking my chest in that stupid shirt I had on and I was getting depressed. I was convinced every adult present was laughing at me out there. So I said, “Let’s go home. We’ll try again another day.” The tears of my eldest son made me try one last time. And then, I figured it out. Maybe I had tied the string in the wrong place. I tied it on the other side, where there was actually a hole to loop it and where you’d actually be able to see the Angel Fish painted on the kite if it ever took off (who knew?). And Voila! Lift off. The Wright Brothers couldn’t have been more elated. A kite from Kelly’s for my boys: $11. Actually getting the sucker to fly for them on a Sunday afternoon at Clifford Park: priceless.

9. The first time I danced to Kompa music. The year was 1996. The place, Miami. Coco-Walk to be precise. A bunch of us writers who were spending a few weeks at the University of Miami were in a bar and the band was groovin’. Haitian kompa: that’s how you have a good time. Sweet, sweet music.

10. Speaking of music. I’m grateful for the night when I saw and heard Tony Mckay aka Exuma the Obeahman, perform “Rude Boy” live. It was Goombay Summer on Bay Street. 1987 or ’88. Can’t remember. But he was fantastic. We really should properly honor that man. A great, great artist. Someone tell me how Frank Watson got a street named after him before Tony McKay? We suck.

11. I know, I said 10. But I had to add this one. I am also grateful that I saw Pauline Davis-Thompson run, before the rest of the world did. She was a Government High student, just like me, in the mid- 1980s and I still see her tearing up the track on the back stretch at the QE Sports Centre. Black lightning. Power and grace. I was proud of her in 1984 and I’m still proud of her today. More power to you Pauline! (And where’s her street by the way?) Did I mention that we suck?

Anyway, positivity, positivity. The cup is half full. Half full.

IAN STRACHAN is Associate Professor of English at The College of The Bahamas. You can write him at strachantalk@gmail.com or visit www.ianstrachan.wordpress.com.

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