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Flip to the last page of any Atlantic print magazine, and you’ll find a humble ode.
The source of all this goodwill is James Parker, a lyrical writer (and poet) turned monthly gratitude correspondent. In honor of Thanksgiving, I asked James to write an original holiday-themed ode.
Below, you’ll find his new meditation on returning to consciousness, as well as a collection of odes from yesteryear. Happy thanking.
An ode to regaining consciousness
This one I never managed to write for the magazine.
A couple of decades ago, at a time when I was a night-shift baker, a freelance journalist, and the father of an infant son—frantic, in other words—I found myself fainting rather a lot. Or rather, I found myself on the bathroom floor rather a lot, wondering what had just happened. It was then that I discovered the pleasures of coming round.
Fainting is a disgusting experience: Everything slips, tips, darkens, crowding toward the zero point, and you barely know what’s going on. Coming round, however, is leisurely and delicious. Plenty of time to appreciate everything—to savor everything. How cool and solid the floor under your cheek. How generous and unequivocal the clear light of the bathroom. How wonderfully, steadily actual the base of the toilet.
This world of things: how it holds us and supports us. Birds in their nest, stars in their socket, humans blinking gently as their faculties are restored. How at home we really are.
A pandemic that won’t last forever and ever, amen