From the Jan. 23, 1981 edition of the Vineyard Gazette by Louise Aldrich Bugbee:

Yesterday I got a letter from Marjorie Spear. She wrote, “Gratitude is good therapy.” Now there’s a sentiment that should be shared. For my own benefit, on this rainy day when I’m not required to go to work, I’m sitting here enjoying gratitude. At first it was unfocused gratitude. I was grateful for the day off from work, for the warmth in the house, my first cup of coffee. Both cats were particularly loving. I forgave the elder cat for sedately walking across the table last night when I had guests. Forgiveness may be good therapy, too. Then, thinking of writing another column, the gratitude settled on all the people who help me write each week. Without them, in person and in letters, I’d have absolutely nothing to write.

Alice Petersen of Winchester wrote a short note and mentioned that “common sense is so uncommon.” I think I was aware of that but I hadn’t thought of it lately, and I’m very grateful to Alice for bringing the subject up. We seem to have developed an awe of knowledge and systems and technology for their own sake, for the sheer wonder of them being so marvelous, but we’ve lost the common sense to make them work for the good of humankind. We develop a greed for wealth and power, a desire to be in control of complicated systems and organizations.

I’m grateful to Mary Silva, a diet technician at the hospital who took the time to discuss organization with me. She’s for it. I’m against it, or I thought I was. After I talked with her I realized that a complete lack of organization could be rather chaotic. What I was ranting about was my suspicion that many who organize can set up a beautiful organization and they then sit back and admire it and do very little about the purpose of the organization. Organization should serve not itself, but the purpose for which it was organized. That’s only common sense.

I am grateful to my two guests of last evening and not only because neither of them expressed shock and disgust when the cat strolled across the table. Right now while they are going about their separate occupations and not giving any of this a thought, they are writing the next few paragraphs for me.

Revolution was only a fragment of our conversation but I learned a lot from it. I was for it. They were against it and they were right, in a way. Revolutions are destructive and often end up with only a shift of power and the same injustices. I think we agreed that the ultimate in organizations - bureaucracy - is getting pretty rank and should be mowed down or plowed under.

The conversation shifted and I didn’t get any clear plan from either guest although neither of them liked the present situation any better than I did.

After some serious thinking I come to the conclusion that the responsibility for better government rests on the common people.

Instead of being tolerant, complaisant, even admiring of the ugly warts on the body politic, we should express our disgust so strongly, so constantly and in such a united way that even the least sensitive skins are needled uncomfortable.

Okay, I’ll get off the soap box. But I hope someone else climbs up on it. It needed to be said and if we all wait for the other guy to say it, organization without purpose, at least without a purpose beneficial to the populace, will flourish, grow, blossom and scatter more seeds of corruption.

Therapy session almost over.

I need to mention one winter’s day because it is the sort of thing that all Islanders can have to appreciate and practice gratitude.

It can happen anywhere on the Island and with any number of different people. My winter’s day happened on the Vineyard Haven side of the Lagoon with Bob and Barbara MacInnis, Mae Cronig, Agatha McGaw and Bunny Johnston. May as well include Maren Feil in the gratitude because it was her recipe for chicken that made the main dish of the lovely lunch. A nice thing about gratitude is that there is no need to save it. It may be in short supply in our lives but there is no chance of dangerously lessening the supply by over use.

Nothing spectacular happened although Bunny did bring in some of her dolls, all hand made, all dressed differently, all made with joy and tenderness, and sold for the benefit of the hospital.

The rest was only the warmth of friendship and quiet conversation in just one of the Island’s many lovely locations. The MacInnis house faces the Lagoon and a nice stretch of water. Several kinds of ducks floated on and dived into the water. Some were chubby little birds with white patches on their heads. Birds came to the feeder, white throated sparrows, dozens of morning doves, chickadees, one mockingbird and a grosbeak with a breast almost the color of a robin’s only a little lighter, a little more yellow. This is a happiness within the reach of any Islander. All it takes is time, friendship and willingness to notice and accept the things we can all be grateful for.

Compiled by Hilary Wall