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Giving Thanks in Tough Times
"May you live in fascinating times" is an old curse; the logic being if one chronicles history, "fascinating times" were jam-packed with upheaval. Turbulent, troublesome, frightening, epoch-making periods; anyone experiencing them would be upset, frightened, and anxious.
I point this out because, with the way the world is, one might make a case that we are currently experiencing "fascinating times," and that future historians will find the initial piece of the 21st century to be chock-full of tumult, worthy of study for generations yet to come. For them, that may be well and good, yet for us in the present, I don't think I stand alone when I pray we figure out soon how to get along a little better.
Giving thanks in such chaotic times is not simple. It feels difficult and trivial to find positives when all around seems urgent. However, to do so, requires a refocus on what one has, rather than a sadness of the way it is not. Saying "Thank you," lightens the heart, and loosens life's burdens Ñ if only for a moment, making living worthwhile. Now, more than ever, it is essential to express gratitude for what one has. We are still blessed in many ways.
I can be thankful to sit at a table with family and friends, sharing food, conversation, and stories. We will laugh at where we have been, even if we disagree about where we are headed. We are not a perfect family unit; but we are what we are. I give thanks, and send a prayer to those less well off.
I am grateful to live where I do. Sure, I complain about excess rain and a hidden sun. I lament the dreary fog in the morning, and the wind in the afternoon. Yet, on the grand perspective, this patch of Mother Earth is no less than stunning. Endless forests of trees on majestic mountains caress the heavens; rushing, raging, rivers cut through strong stone canyons in their never ending race to become part of a breathtaking vista of world's greatest ocean. I reside in a postcard photograph; is that cool or what?
Contrary to how I was raised, I taught my children, "Do what you love, the money will fol- low." Although it took me four decades to heed my own advice, it has worked out and I am uplifted by what I do. While others never leave a squalid village, and have no hope, I have traveled far, seen much, and spoken to many. I am again grateful.
I am not alone, residing in a community, a true enclave of people who greet me with handshakes and "hellos." We still ask about each other's children. We share personal successes and setbacks. I have no interest in living elsewhere; I am gratified to be where I am.
My story is different than yours; each of us travels his own path. However, it is my purest intent that in my appreciation, I kindle within you a smile or joyful thought that you will share with others, light- ening your day and theirs.
Saying thank you might not change a life. However, it sure won't hurt.
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Striving for Imprefection! (sm)