October 2, 2012 at 2:36 PM
"...we’re lucky to have friends and family to help us through hard times"
Matthew Irwin is a freelance writer and farmers' apprentice living in Alcalde, NM.
Back when I was a single, self-sufficient liberal, I argued with people opposed to social service program on two points: 1) The state of the world is a direct reflection of the ratio of compassion to self interest, and 2) we’re lucky to have friends and family to help us through hard times, but not everybody has friends and family. On that latter argument, I would like to give some gratitude to the environment that makes it possible for my family to pursue a life that meets our highest conceptions of integrity and meaning.
I’m grateful to Grandma Catherine for a place to stay; to Baby Shae’s 16-year-old Uncle Vinnie for enduring our intrusion on his space; to Grandma Marcia and Grandpa Terry for helping when they can and offering more than they should; to Jason, the friend who doesn’t waver despite my years of silence, and his wife, Jenn, in New York for offering encouragement and praise; to Troy in San Francisco for disapproving of almost everything I say and do, but loving me unconditionally; to Godfather Frank, and his lady, Cristy, in San Diego for giving us some reprieve on the sea and the promise to teach my boy the lessons I can’t; to Godmother Lori in Jackson Hole for her total acceptance, allowance and love; to my siblings, Phil and Lindsay, for witnessing my exploits without judgment and sharing memories of childhood, both hilarious and hard; to their spouses, Mandy and Tim, for loving my siblings so much as to protect who they are; to Troy and Carolyn in Santa Fe for more than a decade of good food, good music and great conversations; to Shae for showing me who I am; and to Melina for every day I wake up next to her.
I’m also grateful for the orange and pink sunset last night over San Cristobal; for the solo hike up Wheeler Peak on Sunday; for the house garden that I tilled into neat rows last week; for works of art like Roberto Belano’s book, "Amulet, " that deepen my connection to all humanity; for Elevation Coffee, which spotted me a cup when I had no cash; for the State of New Mexico that covers my boy’s health insurance and provides us with Electronic Benefit Transfer (aka food stamps); for my VW Golf that has accumulated more than 122,000 miles of adventure since I bought it in 2004; for the few regular freelance writing gigs I do have; and for my editor Todd Lovato at SantaFe.com, who gives me the space and support to write about this hard, joyous life, for my mind is just a jumble of scorching messages fired along by my heart until the words begin to fall in line on the page.