Loving What We’ve Got
In the face of a troubled Bay, a Top Ten gratitude list
by Ben Miller
On Diane Rehm’s radio interview show, a female caller asked Tal Ben-Shahar, (author of Happier, Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment) how she could be happy with the war in Iraq, the sufferings of people in Darfur and a government in which she had lost faith.
Ben-Shahar suggested that each night before sleep, she make a of list things for which she was grateful. These could be, for example, a beautiful day, a healthy child, a supportive spouse or any of a variety of good things in her life. He suggested this nightly gratitude check, if made a habit, would make her happier.
Can we put his advice into practice? Let’s take Chesapeake Bay as an example.
We hear a lot of bad news about the Bay, including dead zones, fish kills (the latest in Weems Creek in Annapolis), toxic water, few oysters, invasive mitten crabs, trees going under the bulldozer. It’s all pretty depressing. And true. No one is making this up. Scientific studies (costing millions of dollars and, perhaps, another cause for unhappiness) tell us these things are happening. (For an idea on how bad it’s getting, read Carrie Madren’s article, “Micro-Monsters Lurk in Chesapeake Waters,” Vol. xv, No 25: June 21).
In the counter-balance, I made a gratitude check and quickly came up with my list of 10 things very good about the Bay:
1. People love the Bay. On summer weekends, look out on the Bay filled with boats. People in the boats are enjoying fishing, sailing, cruising. On summer weekends, visit Sandy Point State Park, a United Nations of people swimming, cooking, eating, metal detecting, loafing, playing soccer and fishing. Everyone is having a ball.
2. People care about the Bay. People are giving their money their tax money and their contributions to programs, foundations, studies, networks, resource management, enforcement of fishing and game laws and wastewater clean-up. People are raising oysters, planting underwater grasses and cleaning litter. Kids are pitching in, too.
3. The Bay is beautiful. The Bay always is changing; it’s never the same. Clouds, water, sunlight, breezes: Chesapeake Bay’s impressionistic palette is infinite.
4. Fish are in the water, including the best sportfish in the Bay, the rockfish. People are catching them. Read Bay Weekly’s Dennis Doyle to learn how.
5. Great blue herons are here and not just on license plates. Their numbers have increased. (Read Steve Carr’s column, “The Bird that Tried to Save the Bay,” Vol. xiv, No 34: Aug. 24, 2006).
6. Bald eagles are back. It’s a thrill to see these symbols of our country and to see them off the endangered species list.
7. Native species thrive. Some native species of wildlife long gone are returning. Osprey abound. A pair of peregrine falcons is nesting near the Severn River Bridge. Read Bill Burton’s article on the fisher, “an oversized marten or weasel,” and keep your cats indoors. [Vol. xv, No. 23: June 23].
8. We help horseshoe crabs. These strange creatures have survived from the days of the dinosaurs. It feels good to return a beached horseshoe crab to the water.
9. Blue crabs abound. We will eat many of them this summer (Don’t they taste good!) Yet they will be here for us again next summer.
10. The Bay is there. It waits for us, if only to look out across its waters. The Chesapeake Bay is a symbol of possibilities.
There: Don’t you feel better?