Russell H. Ragsdale


Five Days of Gratefulness

First day of gratitude:

1.       I am grateful for the happy child that is inside me.  It is often regarded with suspicion by adults that I spend time like an older friend with children.  Truly, as an older person, I find myself also in need of the intellectual stimulation of mature conversation with friends but it is the simple joy of play and the genuine laughter of children that I also sometimes need.  The adult world can be notoriously disingenuous and cruel and this is not to say there isn’t a touch of cruelty in the play of children but by comparison the amusement and laughter of children is so much more kind and sincere that it provides me with the checks and balances I need to cope with general adult contact and still keep that happy child alive and well inside me.

2.       I am grateful I live in a place where my native language is not so common.  Certainly it is difficult to pick up another language as an adult (I started learning Russian when I was 48) but to not only learn the language but also become familiar with the culture that it carries is a real privilege.  Another language is a portal to another world really and because I have lived in the former Soviet Union for the last 22 years, that world and the language that opens the door to many strange and interesting cultural intricacies now feels as if it is mine also.  I have become more comfortable and tolerant as a human being as a result.

3.       I am so very deeply grateful for the internet that it would be difficult for most people to understand.  This magic kingdom has literally saved my life because it was the mechanism by which I started to write poetry again.  That may seem pretty insignificant to many people but it has saved me from a sad and unfulfilled early grave.  Poets are odd, there is no more sophisticated way to put this simple fact.  Normal people don’t write poetry.  In fact, normal consciousness does not perceive the rare wonders and odd truths of the world around us.  The real reason people are moved by poetry is that through it they can get in touch with the strange beauty of the world which they don’t otherwise see.  But, just as poets are those odd interpreters of the language of the otherwise unseen, they also need to be able to speak in this tongue to others to break the isolation which has given them this ability to percieve.  We are lonely people.  When I stopped writing poetry in the 80’s it was an unacknowledged suicide but the print world in which I had published had left me even further isolated.  Twenty years of drug and alcohol abuse followed my unobserved demise and I am now trying to restore my health from that time in the coffin.  The internet lifted that coffin lid for me with the coming of the second millennium.  It led me to connection and community and the strange and wonderful occurrence of getting to know and love you all.