Ungrateful?

Another question from LYL:

What do people thank you for?

Well, that’s easy.

Nothing.

Don’t mistake this statement for a lack of gratitude on my part. It’s based on the simple fact that in order to be thanked for something, you need to do something. And I do so little that even if someone wanted to thank me for something, they’d be hard pressed to find anything.

The only thing I’ve been thanked for in recent memory is my presence. Given that that’s about all I can offer in my usual state of mind, that’s not a surprise.

But something about being thanked for my presence causes a sting of pain rather than the warmth of appreciation. Like I’m capable of more, so being thanked for doing nothing feels like a frequently repeated reminder of my lack of value, my failure to use my own abilities.

In truth, I’m thanked almost daily. In my video games. Yes, by other real people. For my presence, as usual. But also for skill. For effort. For contribution.

My skill, effort, and contribution just don’t leave my keyboard, which makes it difficult for people outside of it to thank me even if they wanted to.

Trying to be more positive and get to the point of the question, I think the idea here is to discover what you’re good at through external expressions of gratitude. I have been told what I’m good at.

I have amazing copyediting skills. Truly. As others put it for me, editing is my “superpower.” I know what the English rules and intricacies are. I know how to use and abuse them for both function and style. I have edited professional writers’ works and when there were no true errors to be found, I offered endless marginal notes about why they might consider different phrasings for possible emphases. I could be tested, licensed, maybe study further, see where it leads, but I’m not sure I want to. While I enjoy such work, the expectations that go along with it tend to be more than I can handle, sending me fleeing as soon as things begin to go well.

I can draw. With a pencil and paper. I’m not that good at it, but I know exactly why: a lack of practice. I’ve done well enough that I’ve amazed myself in the few attempts I’ve made. I know that if I were to put in nothing more than time, I could find great joy and nurture a very real talent. I was once told by an instructor I respected that I should make sure that whatever I do, I don’t stop drawing. I did, though. I stopped. I don’t put in the time. My lack of practice comes from a lack of passion, but the lack of passion comes from a disorder of the mind.

I don’t do any of the things that make me feel better. Drawing is simply one of many.

Those are things I’ve been thanked for in years long past, things that echo through to the present and ripple off the shield of my absent enthusiasm. The repercussions of this are decades of lost time, and a dark fear of a colourless future for myself and those chained to me.

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