I’m Sorry It Took Me More Than an Hour to Notice You Shaved

by gillis

It’s so easy to take things for granted. Throw in a load of laundry and know it will come out clean and ready for drying. Send a text to someone you haven’t seen for a bit and assume they will receive the message. Blips on the radar like a faulty drain on the washer or an unforwarded new phone number make us sit up and take notice. We get annoyed when our assumptions aren’t corroborated. Then, if we’re lucky, we become grateful.

I live a lot of my life on autopilot. I’m not proud of this, but I acknowledge that I’m less evolved than I’d like to be. I’m selfish and needy in ways that still surprise me. I have trouble being satisfied with what I have and I always want more – more books, more shoes, more cake, more time to myself – always more time to myself. If I weren’t planning to be cremated and shaken out along the Mass Turnpike when I die, it would be perfectly apt to carve, “She died as she lived, wanting more,” on my headstone.

Sure, I work my lazy gratitude muscle, but not nearly with the vigor it demands. I find I am most grateful when I slow down and sit with those I love and really listen to what they have to say. Nature, too, inspires a deep sense of gratitude in me as do music, dance, theater, literature, and art. There are very few ills that a hike, trip to the ocean, or a live performance can’t cure and for that I am very grateful.

Unfortunately, those who are closest to me are the ones I forget to appreciate most often. As a parent, I forget to tell my children that I appreciate their empathy for others, the way they look out for each other and the ways when they help out around the house. As a spouse, I need to junk the autopilot button completely and thank my husband daily for all that he does. It’s too easy to keep score and think about the things I want more of rather than look at all the things that are wonderful and right in front of me because of his efforts.

Yesterday I failed to notice that my husband had shaved his Decembeard off. It took me over an hour to see that the lumbersexual I had become accustomed to living with had a smooth face once again. My daughter tried to point it out to me in rudimentary mime, but I was preoccupied. As usual. What makes this so egregious is that this is a man who notices when I’ve had my hair done despite the fact that I have very short hair and trim it frequently. He’s observant and I’m vacant. I finally saw his face as he was bending down to kiss me to say goodbye and recoiled in horror – how long ago had he shaved??