Archive for January 11th, 2011

As the cold wind blows outside the bedroom at about 3:30 this morning, I begin to think of the things for which I’m particularly thankful. I don’t like the cold weather. I’ve lived in New England all of my life and I-just-don’t-like-it! Was in Quebec one year and took an afternoon off to visit the Carnaval de Quebec. We took a cab from the hotel to the Carnaval but decided to walk back. None of us realized that the temperature was quite as low as it was. Even though this was the warmest day of the conference, it was still minus 22 degrees; now that is a bit chilly. Can you say, “Frostbite?” I had a full beard at the time and pieces would break off when I put my hands – gloved, of course –on it. That’s about as cold as I’ve ever been. I suppose that people in Canada and parts of Minnesota would call us a bunch of pussies but damn, that was cold! As a consequence, I like the warmth of comforters and quilts in the winter. I don’t particularly care for getting up at 3:30 or 4:00; first, because it’s still pitch black; second, because we turn the heat down to fifty at night, and; third because it means I have to get dressed for the gym. I wear shorts to the gym and that doesn’t help when I’m cold; however, I’ve always done it that way and it is tough to break the habit.  When I return from the gym, I do the one think that is really bad for me…I take the longest, hottest shower I can stand. It really dries out the skin, but it feels so, so good.

I like the warmth of a fireplace in the winter; logs crackling and sparks flying give me that hunkered down feeling. Too bad that my fireplace is gas with fake logs, no odor of burning wood; just a dumb, damned gas fireplace trying hard to make me believe it’s real…ah, well.

I’m thankful that I’ve outlived the national average. It’s about 74.8 for men and I’ve made it a little beyond 1.2 years, so I guess that’s something for which to be thankful. A respiratory therapist told me recently, “You’re a young 76.” What the hell that means is beyond me. I suppose it meant we shouldn’t have been in bed together naked while she was giving me the treatment, but then, who can really say… just kidding!

Surviving three heart attacks is something for which I can give thanks. I look at the heart attacks, at least the ones that I had because they didn’t kill me, rather the way I view getting fired; it’s the type of thing that one should experience once in his or her life – as long as it isn’t fatal, of course – and use as a lesson to do things a little better after you get over the shock. Getting fired can be the best thing that ever happened to you. Suddenly, you realize that you’re not the indispensible part of the organization you thought you were. It’s very easy to get pissed off at the people who fired you, but that really doesn’t do anyone any good. These people who plot and sometimes even carry out revenge don’t really gain all that much…build a bridge; get over it; it’s in the past, and there’s very little that can be done about it. Another beauty of being fired is that you begin to understand, perhaps for the first time in your life, that you are not the be all and end all. Working for a living can be fun; you just have to allow yourself to see the ‘big picture’ – damn, but I hate that phrase. You should remember that loyalty is a one-way street; you must be loyal to the organization, but that doesn’t mean the organization has any obligation to be loyal to you. You don’t like it that way…start your own business!

There are any number of ‘other’ things for which I’m thankful. I’ve already mentioned the longevity ‘thingie,’ but I’m also thankful for the time in which I lived. Being born just as the country is recovering from a depression doesn’t sound as though life would be too exciting, but let’s face facts; from 1934 to probably 1938, I didn’t know my ass from my elbow. Hell, I wasn’t yet five years of age so what would I care that some guy with an idiot moustache, a straight-arm salute, and a bunch of goose-stepping assholes were doing in Europe. The next three years became one of the most fascinating periods of growing up. There was no talk of politics or political parties, not in the mind of a 7-year old. What there was was collecting tinfoil from cigarette packages and making it into a ball that you could give to the teacher at school because it was for “the war effort.” All we, at our tender age, knew was that there were a bunch of bad guys in Japan – wherever that was – who had bombed our U.S. Navy and we were fighting them because if we didn’t, we’d all wind up speaking Japanese or German…our logic sometimes became a bit flawed.

When WWII ended, I was all grown up so I was a part of the celebration as the parade marched through town. I say “grown up” and yet, I didn’t understand the ramifications of Harry Hunt and a few other people from town whom I didn’t even know, but who wouldn’t be coming home…ever. I saw the dawn of the atomic age, the onset of the Cold War when the US had a new enemy, one that had recently been an ally. We took a great deal of news on faith back then; we weren’t as questioning and as, yes, as cynical as the young people seem to be today.

I’m thankful that I saw men walk on the moon; that I saw the birth of the computer and even several iterations of this magnificent machine. I can’t say that I’m thankful for cell phones because I see so many people driving while using and that’s kind of dumb. The Bluetooth and other advances have made things a bit safer but not a whole hell of a lot.

I’m thankful that I went to college and earned an advanced degree; that each of the three kids also graduated from the college of their choosing; that they grew up at all; that they stayed away from drugs of almost all kinds – they were known to knock back more than a few beers in their heyday – and I’m thankful that they chose wonderful life partners just as their Dad had before them.

There is no lingering lesson in this little essay other than this: Instead of bitching about this, that, and the other things, we should all sit back every once in a while and take stock of what it is for which we should be thankful. If we can’t find something, my guess is we’re just not trying. Hey, you’re alive, aren’t you?

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