Have you ever noticed athletes who point upward in a gesture to thank God, the Universe, or whatever higher power they believe in when they make a great play, but then they swear like drunken sailors when they drop a ball or miss the easy shot? I started pondering this double standard phenomenon a while back and it got me to thinking about my life and my own actions. I started thinking maybe I’m only thankful when I make the big catch and perhaps I am a bit ungrateful when the ball slips through my fingers.
I’m not pushing any religion or anything like that, but it would seem to me if we believe in a higher power watching over us, then we should be thinking that the higher power more or less knows what’s best for us all the time, right? Maybe if we drop the pass or lose the game, it’s working out just like it’s suppose to.
With that said, I want to reflect on 2015 and be thankful for some stuff that I presume happened just as it was supposed to happen.
I got shingles last year and I can tell you they were not fun. In fact, it’s been a few months and I still feel tingling and itching and little sharp pains from time to time. On the other hand, while it’s a strange disease that we have almost no control over, it’s not fatal and it reminded me of how little control I have over my body. I was humbled that such an insignificant virus could take me down and I was reminded that I have been blessed with good health for my entire life.
I went out and bought some medical scrubs that were way too big and I walked around for two weeks holding the material off my waistline where all the wounds were lingering. I’m thankful I got shingles, but if there’s a higher power listening, I’m not asking to get them again. Then again, if I have a choice between shingles and something worse, I’ll take the shingle virus.
I like reading and I decided I wanted to know more about the history and the wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990’s. I went out and bought two recommended books and had my eyes opened to the barbaric brutalities that much of the world turned a blind eye on to. To this very day most people have no idea how bad this war really was and what the people of this region endured. In the end, I was heartbroken and grateful. Heartbroken to affirm what I already knew, that human beings can often be subhuman. And I am grateful to live in America. With all of our problems, we are still far better off than most of the world.
Island Dogs was published in 2015 and I have sold a couple hundred copies of a book that took me over two years to write. While I’ll admit that I’m sometimes not thankful that I’ve only sold such a small number of copies, the truth is sometimes I sit back and think, “Wow! I actually published a book, and if I may say so, it wasn’t half bad.” So I have a few thousand hours and a few thousand dollars invested in something that has barely sold any copies. So what? I still published a book and, as the Higher Power likes to remind me, I’m learning humility. It’s good for the soul.
As long as I’m talking about writing, I may as well be thankful for the short stories that got rejected again in 2015. I submit the stories and they send me a rejection or nothing at all. It’s the game we play. More humility.
Another humility lesson. I bought an old sailboat that I paid a little too much for and it’s too small and it leaked like a sieve. On top of that, it rained just about everyday last summer so once we bought it, all we could do was go down to the marina and say, “Yup. All the windows and rigging still leak.” We got discouraged, we got mad and then we got over it. We fixed it up, (actually my wife did most of the fixing while I was at work), we’re learning to sail and we’re looking for a bigger boat. We will lose some money on this one, but whoever buys it will get a well repaired, well maintained, boat that doesn’t leak and sails quite impressively. How can you not cross the goal line and point to the sky on that one?
After buying the boat we made friends at the marina and as time goes by I’m sure we will make more. Of the characters we’ve already befriended in our boating community, James may be the most unique. In fact he may be the living embodiment of Pellet from Island Dogs. (James… that is not necessarily a good thing). You’ve got to point to the sky for new friends.
Our Babies Moved Away:
Our son-in-law was stationed in Greenland for a year and our daughter and grandbabies came to live near us while he was gone. The grandbabies made a mess, ate our food, spilled drinks, made way too much noise in our townhouse and all in all, they wore us out. Then as quick as they arrived, they moved to California and broke our hearts. We tried to get them to stay. When I asked our three-year-old grandson if he would like to stay with us, he replied, “No. I think I’m gonna go with my mom and dad.” He looked like he felt bad about it though. We already knew how much we loved are children and grandbabies, but when they moved away, we knew it even more. We’re thankful every day for our beautiful family through good and bad, and thick and thin. They are the best.
For the past 20 months, I’ve worked on one of those projects where so much seemed to keep going wrong that I wondered why I even bothered to keep trying. I swear the damn job almost did me in last year, but guess what? It didn’t do me in and I had a job that provided for my family and I was fortunate to work with some incredible people. That’s something worth a skyward gesture.
Doug Gorman died this year. You probably didn’t know him and to be honest, I didn’t know him for very long, but this is what I will always remember about Doug G. He was probably the most knowledgeable construction professional I’ve ever worked with. He loved what he was doing with a passion. He was hardworking and fair to those who worked with him. If you screwed up you would probably hear about it and if you did good, everyone would probably hear about it. I can only presume that Doug is in charge of building something on a grander scale these days. Rest in peace Doug. I’m thankful and honored I got to meet and work with you.
Have you ever been driving down the road and hit a little hill that gave you butterflies when you went over it? There’s a hill on 3rd Street that makes me smile every single time I crest the top of it. It’s a small thing, but it’s cool and I feel like a kid and want to yell, “Wahoo!” and giggle when the butterflies flutter. How can you not be thankful for that? I thought I’d throw the Hill into the mix just because it is such a great hill.
So there you have it. There’s the stuff that, depending on how you look at it, can make you grumble profanities or point to the sky. Maybe that’s the big lesson for 2015. Perspective. Most of the time, whether we’re thankful and pointing to the sky or upset and swearing like a sailor, it’s all just our perspective. And having a choice on how to react to what happens is something to be thankful for.