Gratitude 2021

I write at least one post about gratitude per year, and each year I find the task a little bit more difficult because I have even more to be thankful for and narrowing it down to just one part is hard.

This year, though, my family is top of mind.

I think about and appreciate my family just about every day, from my wife to my parents to my siblings to my extended family like my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. But two things happened this year that made me feel particularly thankful for my family.

The first isn’t really my business enough to write about it, but something bad and unexpected happened to one of my family members. It was a tricky situation, both for that person and for several other family members who were directly affected. Besides the immediate ramifications for my family member, it was the sort of situation where if not handled correctly it could lead to resentment and rifts between any number of people.

Instead, though, everyone dropped everything and rallied around the family member who was affected. I remember distinctly thinking that a terrible thing had happened, but that somehow we were all closer because of it. It’s one thing to know logically that you have a safety net in your family, and another entirely to see it deployed and catch someone.

On the total opposite end of the spectrum of needs, I have always wanted to have a steam room. I know it sounds trivial and dumb, but I just love steam rooms. Nothing is more relaxing to me, and on the rare occasion that I get a headache, a steam room erases it immediately. Almost every night my wife and I soak in the hot tub I bought for a few hundred bucks on Craigslist, and my dream has been to build a mini spa in my backyard to make the experience even better.

I sort of know how to build things, but there are enough gaps in my abilities that building an entire spa building on my own would almost certainly result in some sort of disaster. My father, on the other hand, is good at building everything.

I asked if he’d help me build it, and he said yes but when I sent him some dates that would work for me he didn’t reply for a few days. It occurred to me that at almost 70 years old maybe it’s a huge imposition for me to expect him to fly across the country and do manual labor with me for a week. So I messaged him and said, “Hey, if you don’t feel like doing this, it’s totally fine and I’ll figure it out”.

The next day he sent me his flight itinerary. I asked my brothers if they wanted to help and they came down for a few of the days, too.

Thinking about that week makes me start to tear up a little bit. We built the building, and it was an incredible experience. I learned a ton, got to work with my family members, and got to spend more time with my dad than I have in years. What really touched me is that no one was just there to tick the box of “I helped Tynan”, but they all cared about the project because I cared about it and treated it like it was their own.

My dad was working on it before I woke up every day, and one time when my dad and I came back from Home Depot with lumber, I saw my brothers sitting on the newly framed roof figuring out the best way to fill some empty spaces, because they cared about it coming out well.

On the last day we were scrambling to get the shell of the building into a condition where I could figure out the rest on my own. As the day went on it became more and more clear that there were going to be leaving some pretty tough things for me to do alone. Without me asking, my dad changed his flight so that he could stay a few more days to make sure it came out well.

I’m still figuring out the best way to build out the interior, so at this point it’s really just a shed, but when I look at it I think about how my father and brothers showed up for me and how we got to do a cool project together.

I’ve written, and then deleted, a bunch of rambling paragraphs that illustrate how great my family is, and how much I appreciate and love them all, but I’ll just leave it at those two examples. I’m so grateful to have a group of people around me who all support each other when we need it, and get to live vicariously whenever something good happens to someone else.

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Photo is a cool digital art thing that we saw, of all places, at an Italian restaurant.

YES, I’m doing a gear post this year (and every year)! My brother takes the photos for me and so I’m waiting to see him at Christmas. I have some REALLY good new things this year.

Shout out to Kent! Ran into a reader riding his bike in Hilo today!

More posts coming soon…

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