I’ve Got A Lot To Be Thankful For . . . But Am I?

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

I got a lot of great folks in my life all the way from my littlest nephew who is still learning to speak to my aunt-in-law who is in her mid-nineties and still is interested in me (and technically, I am only related to her by marriage). I have a great spouse, great kids, siblings, cousins, friends . . . and they are all very active in my life.

I have food on my table everyday, usual three times a day, and more if I needed it.  I have a great home that is heated in the winter and cooled in the summer.  I have a closet full of clothes, a car that runs, computers, books, musical instruments, and all the basic amenities that anyone would ever want. I have lots of time to think, ample space to enjoy, and good health on top of all that.

And for me, my good fortune is more noticeable in November at Thanksgiving time.

In fact, just the word Thanksgiving gets me pondering about everything that is good in my world.  The weather is usually wonderful with fall colors and smells everywhere.  The holiday season is just starting, so my bank account is still in tack.  Snow hasn’t entered the scene yet, and heck, it’s pomegranate season as well.  And as I said, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

With all that is good to great in my life, I am embarrassed to say and . . . must truthfully admit, I still find time to . . . (not always, but sometimes) . . . voice my fair share of complaints.

Daylight Savings Time is ending and my internal clock system will be off a little.  I just noticed that merchants have entirely skipped over Thanksgiving and hauled out the Christmas decorations already.  The price of gas is going up again.  The hummingbirds went south for the winter and didn’t bother to finish all the food in their feeder – which I now have to clean.  My cellphone keeps dropping calls.  My Bank of America debit card is going to cost more, and I can’t figure out how much or when the new fees will start.  The local department of transportation fixed the pot holes in the road, but left a dusty mess behind.  The post office changed its hours and it is more difficult for me to meet the new schedule.  No more free refills of popcorn at the local movie theater unless I go on Tuesday and who goes to movies on Tuesdays!  There is too much stuff in my garage right now: my car doesn’t fit.  The icemaker wasn’t working this morning. And someone parked in what I consider my parking spot at work.

Just reading those complaints, I have to laugh.

From that list, it is clear that sometimes I am very similar to that wacky teacher who speaks with a waa-waa-waa in the Charlie Brown cartoon series.  All I need to do to complete the picture is simultaneously furrow my brows, place my right hand on my hip, and wear a pencil behind my ear.

Continuing the analogy,  my conversations must sound more like . . . waa-waa-waa . . . Daylight Savings Time . . . waa-waa-waa . . . cellphone calls . . . waa-waa-waa . . . parking spot. I am quite sure that no one is listening to me.  Heck, I am not even listening to me.

Obviously, I need to change. But how?

Reflecting on my life, I grew up during a very unique American time period.  My early, early youth experiences include watching the final moments of the Civil Rights Movement and all the related activities. There was the Greensboro Four, James Meredith, the Selma/Montgomery March, the Freedom Riders and the protests surrounding these types of activities – all in full swing.

Continuing on in my world, my high school life was in complete sync with all the 1970s era protesting . . . including Kent State, the Harrisburg Seven, Woodstock, the ERA.  I was either part of the problem or part of the solution. I learned to stand up and say something . . . to jump forward and try to make a change.

During my undergraduate years, there was always somebody protesting something in the middle of the campus quad.  (In more hilarious moments, the folks protesting were streaking at the same time.  Have to love college life!)

As time has moved forward, the good news has been that many of the most egregious issues that have plagued the United States for decades have been solved.  Not to say that everything is perfect, but it certainly is better.  And gone is the grand scale protesting that once was commonplace throughout the nation.  Gone are Friday afternoon protest marches lining streets with hundreds of people carrying hand-made signs – for or against something . . . anything. Gone are mass letter writing campaigns aimed at filling the snail mail boxes of federal legislators in the hopes of righting some type of wrong   Gone are the once popular sit-ins which at times stopped traffic even in the busiest of city crossroads. It’s a new day, a new time.  Everything has changed.

Thus, my behavior must change too.

My first step to moving off of the waa-waa-waa podium is simple.  Just stop. Stop complaining.  Stop moaning and groaning.  Stop fretting about the inconsequential. Just stop.  It may not be so easy, but as my mother often said, “Good isn’t easy.  Don’t expect it to be so.”   So, just stop.

And my second step is equally as brief.  Just start.  Start to focus on the big picture.  Start to think about what was worth protesting in generations past, and make sure that my focus is centered at that point. Start to be more thankful more often. Stay the course by keeping in step with the good around me.  I may fail, but I had better not go down without a fight. So, just start.

And if steps one and two fail, I have a plan.  Just sign me up for the nearest-streaking-college-quad-march-protest-sit-in and give me a waa-waa-waa sign to hold.  Might as well go for some crazy fun.

City Traffic

Complaining about traffic is common; but, look how interesting and beautiful it can be.