29 Years - 3 Lessons (Part 3)

Joel’s Journal - January 21, 2018 - Volume 3 - Entry #21


Gotta be grateful, even when going No. 2.

Gotta be grateful, even when going No. 2.

This is a simple one. 

Gratitude. A quality that I truly believe can improve everyone’s life once they choose to think about it. I admit, it can be hard to do at times. 

A lot of the things I’ve written about over this three-part series are ways I try to live my life. I’m not perfect, I have good days and bad days. Days where the last thing I feel like doing is working toward any sort of goals. Days where I’ve drank way too many beers the night before and I spend the entire day curled in bed cursing my stupidity at the same time my body curses me for my stupid decisions. I also have days where all I want to do is curl up in front of the TV with M and watch Netflix all day. 

And to be honest, when those feelings come over me, I indulge them. 

As great as it is to be disciplined and passionate and working hard toward the things you want to achieve, your brain and your body need a break at times. 

In my 29 years, this is definitely one of the most important lessons I’ve learned; the time spent not working, is just as important as the time spent working (as long as you’re finding the right balance.)


That is perhaps one of the lessons I’m most grateful for, and it’s that lesson, and all the other lessons I’ve mentioned over these three series, that tie into this final note.

When I talk about gratitude, I mean that in a lot of different ways. 

I mean it in the sense that we should be grateful for the people in our lives, family, friends, and significant others. M has taught me more in our two years together than I ever would have thought possible, and I’m extremely grateful for that. 

I’m also grateful for all the travelling I’ve been able to do, all the friends I’ve met along the way, and all that I’ve been able to do. 

I’m grateful for each meal I eat, each word I get to write, and each kilometre I get to drive. 


I’m grateful to live in a country that offers me every opportunity. I’m grateful for this amazing home in Toronto I get to share with M, and I’m grateful every time I have to clean it or take out the trash. 

I’m also grateful for my good health. Something I think a lot of people take for granted. 

Looking back at specific moments I'm grateful for, there are a lot of them. Christmases. Birthdays. Vacations. All of them stand out. However, there's also those moments you wouldn't think about. Those seemingly mundane or everyday moments. I'm grateful for those too. With that said, those moments can be hard to recall, but the benefits of journalling abound, and taking a peak back, there are a moments I’ll pull out for you. These ones from the journal I kept during my time out west working in northern Alberta. 

From Summer 2014, while visiting my uncle in Calgary. 

From the journal:

My plan that night was to meet up with some old high school buddies (a couple who now lived and worked in Calgary and a few who were in town on vacation). Before that though, I volunteered to help my uncle do some repair work on a house he owns and rents in the Bowness area of Calgary.

As he explained to me, a previous tenant’s girlfriend had gotten a little upset one night and decided to show it by kicking and punching holes in several of the doors like a tornado with fists….

I’m grateful for that moment.  Or even this simple one, during a quiet day alone in Athabasca. 

Kettle from cupboard A, grinder from cupboard B. french press from shelf, coffee beans from freezer, combine and enjoy.

The next two hours were spent on a stool at my new table, drinking the coffee down to the grounds and reading the newspaper down to the classifieds. I absorbed the articles about the recent Alberta budget and Ukrainian developments greedily and even read the plethora of articles about the Edmonton Oilers when I ran out of other news.

At this point all the light that was going to seep into the overcast Saturday morning had done so and finishing off the last of the coffee I started to go about the tasks that needed doing.

I’m grateful for that one too. 

And even the hard ones, in fact, especially the hard ones. I’m grateful for those too. 

The distance from home is really starting to take it's toll. It was easy enough to ignore at first when everything was new and shiny and I was filled with optimism. But now the winds of reality have eroded that shiny veneer off the surface and it's easy to see the things I left behind in Ontario were much more than material objects.

Birthdays. Weddings. Family trips. Friendships.

I willingly threw a screen over my eyes when I moved out here, telling myself everything would be fine. Well, keeping that attitude up and maintaining relationships, whether that be friends or otherwise, over 3,500 kilometers is damn hard, especially for an introverted writer who was never very social in the first place.


In the grand scheme of things, I’m grateful for just how far I’ve come. I’m grateful for every experience, mistake, decision and every moment that I’ve had on this earth that has led me to this moment. 

That’s right, I’m grateful for this moment, this one right here, sitting, drinking a beer, and typing to all of you. 

I’ve gone through a lot to get here, just as you have gone through a lot to get you to this same moment as well. 

So thank you, reader, thank you so much. I hope you’ve learned a little something from these posts. 

29 years. Shit. Here’s to the next 29. 


*Lifts beer, sips, shuts computer.*

Joel Wittnebel