Dean Clough

November 22, 2023

Portico Darwin: Happy Gratitude


<2 Minute Read

Sure, I published this in late September of last year, but the subject is timeless, especially at Thanksgiving.
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We were at my favorite hotel, in my favorite place, for 7 nights.  During the stay, I came to realize just how absolutely, positively lucky and fortunate I am.

But it wasn't the quality of the Adler Mountain Lodge, or its location in the Italian Dolomites, that did it.   

One morning, late in the breakfast service, I was astounded to see a woman, likely in her 30s, sitting by herself at a table, for an extended period, looking directly away from the windows and their other-worldly views.

I thought it so odd that, returning to our room, I made fun of her to Julie, something like "You should have seen the woman seated by herself facing in the wrong direction - who would do that?!"

Worse, later that same day, I cracked to the maître d'hôtel, "Hey - what was up with that woman not looking out the window at breakfast??"

Luckily, he shrugged me off.  Looking back now, I can only hope he didn't understand my English.

Because, in fact, the woman in question has a fairly serious intellectual disability.  This became obvious when I saw her next, later that night, dining with her parents.  Who obviously love and care for her, and always have.

Each time I saw her (I never learned her name) afterwards, I thought both of this gentle soul, but also of her parents, who must carry quite a burden.  Every single day:  yesterday, today, tomorrow.  A burden few - if any of us - have to, or ever will, bear.  They were never more than a few feet away from their daughter - which I failed to notice that first morning.  They had to be.

Seeing them, in that place, doing what they were doing, made a very powerful impression on me.  

Indeed, I made a promise to myself right then and there to stop feeling sorry for myself - about my career perhaps ending prematurely, about this or that job that I haven't gotten since, and about all of the other useless thoughts I have on repeat in my mind.  

Instead, I am committed to gratitude.  It begins with Julie, goes on to my amazing friends and family, and continues with all of the truly spectacular professional and personal experiences I've had - and am still having.  

As we waited to depart the Adler, I snapped this picture, so I would not forget this lovely person, her parents, nor the gratitude I wish to make a habit.  They are to the left, and she is on the right, in this photo.   

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Happy Thanksgiving and please remember how completely fucking awesome life is.


Thank you for reading this newsletter.  


I am also grateful that Brian Wilson made this, my favorite album of them all, Pet Sounds.

Ten Seconds of Seriousness:  What a great album to play with family and friends over this long holiday weekend. 

About Dean Clough