I am Grateful and I am Happy

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They say to write a list of what you're grateful for.
They say it will make you happy.

I say there's more to it than that.
I say writing isn't the answer--learning is.

In order to learn what you are most grateful for in your life
you start at the surface, grab your shovel, and begin to dig;
to dig past all of the skeletons you buried not quite as deep as you would have liked;
to dig past the superficial memories of people you thought would be in your life forever;
to dig past everything you ever thought was your favorite possession.

You dig all the way down to the thoughts and memories,
you know, the ones that are held close to your heart,
close enough that you are careful to ever share them, lest they be overshared-
a fate worse than forgotten.

Those memories for me are of summer days, late night talks,
and friends I would grow to consider family.
They generally lack my biological family or the house I grew up in.
Those memories are of times I genuinely felt at ease,
not carefree or necessarily happy,
but comfortable enough to let my guard down
and open myself to those I couldn't imagine
myself without having known.

Those memories are ones I can barely share with you,
only brushing the surface--hinting at their actual content.
I couldn't bear ever oversharing them.
I want their magic to forever live on.

I will however, tell you this:
I am truly grateful to an old friend who invited me
to go to summer camp with her
now over ten years ago,
I am truly grateful to newer friends who have sat with me
or seen me cry or just listened as I rambled,
I am truly grateful for acquaintences who have become friends
after a few talks about topics I can never divulge,
and I am truly grateful for this life I have been given
with all of the people who have shaped me
into the still-flawed woman I am today.

So you still think a list is what makes me happy?
It's not.
What makes me happy--
genuinely happy, uninhibitedly happy--
is looking back and seeing how many people have changed me,
seeing how many people have had the chance to be close enough,
to look deep enough to see someone inside of me-
a broken me, a sad me-
and still see someone worth knowing.

It's not the easiest thing I've ever had to learn,
but it's the one that makes me the happiest for knowing.

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