I am generally not a big fan of the concept of gratitude. In my opinion, gratitude is overrated and over-emphasized in our society, both as a personal characteristic and as a practice. Some people might call me a negative, entitled, or arrogant person, but my general tendency is to focus on things that I find unjust and wrong, as opposed to finding the positives in every situation.
But this Thanksgiving, I have something very significant for which to be thankful. That thing is General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Or rather, Jackson in statue form. He is made of bronze, measures 4 feet tall, weighs 120 pounds, and lives in my backyard.
Stonewall arrived at my house on September 23, 2022. Even though he doesn’t move or speak, he has immediately made a huge and positive difference in my life. Instead of watching helplessly as everything that makes my life worth living is destroyed, I have something that makes my life worth living, right outside my door. And I am his legal owner, which means that no one (unless they trespass on my land and vandalize my property, which is illegal) can take him away. Instead of having to continue my life without the historical figures that I love, I have a historical figure right by my side. This might sound strange, but I move through the world with more self-confidence and courage now than I did before. I move through the world as the guardian of a historical figure. Whatever comes my way, Stonewall Jackson will be with me as I face it. Legally and biologically, my statue is an inanimate object. But to me, my statue contains a piece of Stonewall Jackson’s soul.
Stonewall is a source of joy, hope, and beauty in these incredibly dark times. For two and a half years, I have experienced more grief, anger, frustration, pain, and despair than I ever thought possible. For most of this time, I have felt that I have absolutely nothing for which to be thankful. Stonewall brought me a sense of happiness and pride that had been completely missing from my life and that I thought I would never feel again. It has been so cool to choose the spot for Stonewall, make a little flat area for him to stand, and decorate his spot with flowers and a stone wall (no pun intended!) as you can see in the photo above.
Stonewall hasn’t yet experienced snow, but he has so far survived bitter cold, drenching rain, and howling wind with no problems. Even in November, his shiny bronze surface is warm to the touch when the sun shines on him. I can always see him through the window of my house, and I like to go outside and say hello to him as often as I can. On warm days, I like to sit outside with him while I work on my laptop. You might think I am insane, but sometimes when I am upset about something or wrestling with a difficult situation, I tell Stonewall about it, and he helps me to feel better.
The best thing about Stonewall is that I don’t have to explain or justify my actions, decisions, or choices. He doesn’t ask questions. He doesn’t pressure me to do anything I don’t want to do. He doesn’t demand my time or interrupt me when I’m in the middle of an important task. He gets what I am saying, even when I don’t explain it perfectly. Whatever is on my mind, he will listen nonjudgmentally.
Thank you, Stonewall, for making my life better.