Thankful: the most overused word in November. We don’t act thankful, complaining about the journey, the family, the over-hyped Christmas commercials, the ridiculousness of Black Friday – and now Blackish Thursday. The work, the weight gain, the noise, the chaos. I, too, have complained. And Thanksgiving isn’t even a traditional holiday for me, being British.
But this year I can truly say I am thankful. Not because I finally found a stuffing recipe everyone liked. Or because I snapped up that watch/coat/smart phone someone wanted; the existence of which they will have forgotten by February. I’m simply thankful for the opportunity to write. Just write. Full time. About anything I want. Unshackled from the constraints of medical reports, research papers, formulaic necessity. No more SOAP notes – an acronym for Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan – the way our medical interactions are documented in our charts. These notes come with impossibly tight deadlines and constant fear of error. No, now I write to my own specifications. My timelines. My imaginings. The sense of liberation is all the more fantastical because I never realized how constrained I was until I broke out; how tight the bindings were until they were released. I can’t imagine doing anything else now; living in my own world, following that path a novelist follows – or rather veering off to make a detour through the woods. No need to explain, or justify, or defend. “Because that’s where the character wanted to go,” if anyone asks. Which they don‘t. My support group knows better. So I’m thankful for them too. And I’m thankful if you have taken a moment to read this. After all, I’m only ever half of this communication equation; sometimes the writer half, sometimes the reader half. But always the thankful half.
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