"I appreciate you," she said, as she left the library.
It's a common phrase, here in Northern New Mexico, and I've often smiled in...yes, appreciation...at its use, but this time it seemed like I really heard it. Appreciation. Not the same thing as thanks, although it's often included with the thank you. Not love, which is often said almost by rote, too, to indicate a deeper feeling than like. Not like, either. Nor affection. Appreciation. Acknowledging something at the core of the person.
C1600 (with an isolated use from c1400) from Ango-French appreciation, noun of action from Old French apprecier from Late Latin appretiare "estimate the quality of." (Etymonline.com)
Yes, it's a recognition of a person's quality. And I find myself thinking we need to do more of that, estimate the quality of the people who are running our country, appreciate the people we live amongst. It might even transform the public dialog (if only it were a dialog.) But, the real reason I am thinking about appreciation is that it seems possible, even in the hopeless mood I currently inhabit. I cannot give thanks: thanksgiving is an active thing that also implies there is a being who has done something specific and good. Gratitude is an offering of an emotion, and my emotions are deadened by the Trump effect.
I wrote recently to a friend, "I'd feel better if I felt less helpless. I'm not able to fight, that's never been my way, but trying to live a life that lifts people up doesn't seem to be working, at least not on the scale that is needed.....I'm still in gray mode, exhausted, confused, and a little numb to the glory and terror that is life."
So, on this Thanksgiving Day, I cannot give thanks (to whom?) for my family, friends, relatively good health and income, worthwhile job, and more than adequately functioning body and brain. I cannot raise a paean of joy for the clouds and skies of New Mexico, the crisp cold scent of sage in the evenings, the warmth of the crackling fire in my wood burning stove, the feel of clay under my fingers, the sound of an excellent audio book in my ears, the savor of a fresh-baked cranberry-peach pie in my mouth. Seeing, feeling, touching, smelling, tasting, hearing....all those wonderful senses working so well and so beautifully to bring the joys of this world to me....and I cannot give thanks in return?
No, not yet. But I can appreciate it, and that's a start. It's a noun of action, even if the action is not energetic. It's a recognition. And it's possible. "I appreciate you," she said, and I can second that emotion.