Let me tell you what I see:
Directly in front of me — a 48-inch window shows a tree, my neighbor’s trailer, and a wide expanse of green lawn. The willow towering over that stretch of spring grass has begun to bud; its soft branches wave in the morning wind.
Closer at hand, a lamp glows. I bought it for ten bucks from an acquaintance who, with her husband, is liquidating her life and setting out for two years of travel in their RV. She said it sat on her mother’s desk for many years. Now its milky white base matches the glass box beside it, which holds part of my extensive inherited button collection. The women in my family do not discard anything. Those buttons fell from blouses, shirts, and jackets for three or four generations back.
In a plastic box with vaguely oriental decorations on its lid, I keep my mother’s PTA, den mother, and war-time medals. That box rests on the desk just inches from a hilarious picture of my adult son sitting on my lap. We took that at a serious photo-shoot in the home of my in-laws. We kept more serious faces when standing by the other folks. For just the two of us, our true nature shone.
Behind that photograph, an angel music box stands with folded hands. To her right — stage left — my printer squats on a wicker cabinet which I brought from Kansas City. In the window sill behind the printer, I’ve placed a lovely ceramic vase that a friend gave me, into which I’ve slipped a silk rose which my son bought for me at Disney World in 1996.
To the left of the window, my favorite Genevieve Casey photograph reminds me of my former life. Above the window, two digital depictions by my son flank a photograph of his younger self. To the right of the window hangs my angel shelf, on which the china angels which I kept when I did my house purge rest. Some hold their hands in perpetual prayer. Some smile. One lifts a tiny candle to light my path.
These sights inspire and calm me. They remind me of the bounty which my life holds. They encourage me to cast aside any whisper of discontent. They suggest to me that I have so much for which to be grateful, and very little about which to complain. The light streaming through the open window reaches my eyes and I am reminded that I can still see. The life which lifts my eyelids has not been extinguished.
It’s Sunday morning. I’m feeling fine.
It’s the eighteenth day of the fiftieth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.