One of the key things that I keep trying to remember and learn ever deeper is to have gratitude even for the smallest things in life.

A beautiful sunny day, the nor'easter that brings down the impressive snow totals, the total randomness of life.

Five times now in my life I have had the great honor of having had my path intersect with those of some pretty fantastic people. People that were it not for them and their generosity, kindness, and caring... I would not be here now.

There have been many others as well who have made a great impact on my life. Far too many to name individually. Some are family friends that grow ever closer, some that are close in memory. Some are casual acquaintances that ensure that the day to day never gets boring and that it is always richer, fuller, and warming.

In my life I have been blessed to meet a wonderful friend whom I went to school with, who despite his best efforts sometimes is a person of great love and compassion. His talent in the arts stands head and shoulders above so many. Years of my life are credited to him in their existence, and that total continues to count ever higher. I shall forever be in debt for his gentle kind nature, his rapier wit, and his kind heart. He is the Mary-Ann to my Cybil :)

Not longer after graduating high school I went to work at my first full time job, moved an hour from home, cut myself off nearly totally from all past family and friends, and took off on what was a somewhat destructive path.

It was a time of pain and youthful ignorance. It was also a time of self discovery.

In that time I discovered a great and wonderful friend in a co-worker. A friendship that exists to this day. We have been through so much in each others lives in just the, wow, nearly 10 years we have known each other. It's as though we can very nearly read each others minds from time to time. Sometimes annoying, more often cool as hell! lol

With great deference to my geek tendencies I found a marvelous person and friend whom I could and can sit and talk with for hours about some of the most tedious, and most unimportant things in life, as well as some of the most crucial and serious of topics.

Though we do not and have not seen each other nearly as often as I would like, and the time spans sometimes cross nearing close to years at times. He flutters in and out of my life always just at the right moments. "FlutterHeIs"

A few years later while I was working my way through college, my path met through work with a lovely woman that to this day likely knows me far better than I will EVER know myself. With a glance she can look at me, see into my soul, see the pain or the joy or the technolust, and she knows what to say and not say.

The vaguest of suggestions do not pass her, she catches them all, and reads them for exactly what they are.

The twin half of me, the yin to my yang. We are opposites in so many ways, yet so alike I sometimes ponder if we are not simply parts of the same soul, a spirit sent to two bodies so that it might find its half again at just the right moment to not only support and love the other, but to save it from time to time.

There are not enough words, not enough hours, to spend that would come close to explaining just how important this person is to me. She is my cosmic sister. Though our paths divided by distance we still travel them together, always in each others mind and heart.

I was born and raised as an only child, but my fortunes in life have lead me to find the sister that the stars had in mind. I don't know if I will ever be as close to another person outside of my parents as I am to this magnificent woman.

D. you mean so much more to me than I can ever express. That we share the same ink on our bodies is small legacy to the greatness of the love I have for you. You are able to stand fully in the shadow and violent storms of depression along side me and guide me back to safety, you are the beacon I search out in the midst of the storm, the solid shining point that I reach for. Even when the winds roar so loudly and all I can see is your smile shining through blowing hair, though I can not seem to hear what I should hear.. you are my rescuer, my sister, my friend.

A few more years pass by watching the ebb and flow of the relationships in my life. The kind souls I call to here. We pass in and out of each others lives with fluid movement and timing that only the Universe could have destined. Growing, loving, living.

And all of the sudden I am moved. Moved 800 miles from all that I have ever known, all family, all friends, all life.

Slowly I begin again, still with my close friends in my heart if not in my presence. I begin to make new friends, the casual acquaintances, those who are so wonderful and bright, who helped me find my place in this new stage of life. Friends who still are there even when I have not been the friend I should be.

But for a time I struggled. Without the close friends at hand it became a game of how isolated I could be and how long before I had to break free. And then quiet unexpected I met another lovely lady who's art is forever a part of my body. She is hilarious, kind, sharp, tough, and wonderful.

What started as a business relationship quickly moved to a wonderful personal friendship. I've let her see the inner demons that reside, and she has not fled, but instead has stood up and offered me her hand. She has helped me turn words into image, bring honor to those I love, and has stood firm in her kindness and tenderness to help me manage the inner demons when they become too much for me alone.

In this lovely person I have found a mirror to express my inner "rebellious" side openly with, who embraces and encourages me not to suppress who I am, and the things that I enjoy. An Inker by trade but an Angel by the grace of the Universe.

Not long after this my path yet again intersected with timing that I could not have predicted. Meeting a most generous and kind gentleman. Someone who is far superior to me in geek knowledge, but kind in willingness to share and teach. A being with a great dry sense of humor and who gets mine without fail. A skill that is far to rare to find at times in this life.

And as if this weren't luck enough, I soon meet his wonderful wife. Who just as openly and quickly accepted me as friend.

These two kind and generous souls not only opened their home and invited me in as friend they did so as well to my family. Such warmth and welcoming is a thing that is all to rare in the world today.

Their generosity seemingly knows no bounds, and in ways I could never imagine or ask for it shows up again and again.

Someday I hope to be able to repay them in kind the support and kindness they have offered me. But I fear I will forever be in their debt.

For all of my friends I will always be in their debt. There will be times when I can stand up and make "payment" of friendship back in kind, but the balance will always be owed to these wonderful people.

This is a debt that I do not loathe carry, but cherish and wrap myself in when the days become to much. I shall forever look to find the ways that I can stand and say: thank you, bless you, Universe protect you.

I am very humbled for the riches of friendship in my life. These wonderful people are but the tip of a large ice berg that brings joy and warmth to my life each and every day in a million small ways.

And since I can't say thank you enough, I will simply bow my head and reach to that deepest most positive of energies and fling it upon the Universe and thank the spirits that guide us and protect us.

Gratitude to the wind, may it land its target 1000 times more than it started.