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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Giving Thanks Is More Important (in the worst of times)

It's almost Thanksgiving, and I would bad a bad blogger if I didn't write something appropriate for the holiday, as I likely have already done over the past 11 years.  Of course, the difference in 2020 is the fact that it has been literally the worst year possible for so many out there, me not necessarily excluded.  How or why to give thanks when...

...the world is in the grips of a pandemic

...so many in our country believe that our nation is on the wrong path

...so many are struggling financially

...we have a sitting president who is trying to engage in a judicial coup d'├ętat

...so many of us will not be able to spend our holidays with our extended families

The answer?

We just do.  We still give thanks.  In fact, at no time is giving thanks more important, in part because some of these things lay bare realities of our world which we would just as soon forget.  Being forced to acknowledge reality is in itself a blessing, all be it one that's sometimes tough to swallow.  Especially for some.

So what I'm going to do is talk about what I am thankful for, acknowledging full well that there are things happening that I don't understand but which may in fact be lessons to be learned.  Call that whatever you like; maybe a good word, for now, is simply "Faith".

Here's my list.

I am thankful for my wife.  There are times when I genuinely wonder why in the heck anyone would want to spend time with me.  I am admittedly not much fun.  In fact, my idea of doing something "fun" is to actually sit alone in my office working on some inane thing.  Yet she loves me for who I am.  Better yet, she sees things in me...good things...that I have probably been conditioned to not see myself.  She is also my hero.

I am thankful that my children are healthy.  No other explanation needed.  Given the circumstances, that's truly a very good thing, and I hope it stays that way.

I am thankful for my job.  In 2020 I spent slightly over 6 months out of work.  In fact, never in my entire adult life have I never had so much time not working.  Not even in college.  The 6 months weren't without their trials and frustrations, as noted on these pages, and while I presented a confident face to the world, the reality is that I had more than a few "moments of doubt and pain".  Fast forward to now and I could not have imagined in July where I would be in November.  I don't know what the future holds for my career, but what I do know is this:  I think I am in the right place.  You can learn more about the professional me through my LinkedIn profile.

I am thankful for hope.  While there is so very much confusion, anger, and disarray on a national political level, we do have hope.  This is the hope of a president-elect who does not constantly rage tweet.  Of someone who wants to be the leader of the entire country, not just the parts that support him.   A president that will tear down walls instead of building them up.

I am thankful for the "givers".  It seems that, over the past few years, some in our society made "taking"...selfishness...greed...anger...xenophobia...good things.  Yet throughout all of this, we still have those who are selfless in their giving.  This includes people like nurses (under-paid superheroes if ever there was such a thing), police, those working with the disabled/those in need, people who help/protect and protect animals, and many, many others.  It's nice to be reminded that greed is not in fact good and that some still risk it all in the name of giving to others. 

I am thankful for my health.  I have not always been so very kind to my body, and I need to do better.  Yet in spite of myself, I am still reasonably healthy.  I need to do better though.

I am thankful for my friends and my network.  I am thankful for every email, text message, LinkedIn message, and phone call of support I received while I was out of work.  I am particularly thankful for those who asked for my help during this time.  It meant a lot to me to feel useful.  I hope I can return those favors in the months and years to come.

I am thankful for the gift of expression.  These blog postings may be self-indulgent, poorly written nonsense, but they are mine.  While so much of my life has changed over the 12 years of this blog, the blog itself has been something of a steady companion, chronicling the world both inside and outside my head.  It's not much, but it is mine. 

I hope that you...whoever you are...can find the time to give thanks, even in these seemingly worst of times.


Friday, November 20, 2020

Better Days


"Well my soul checked out missing as I sat listening to the hours and minutes ticking away
Yeah just sitting around waiting for my life to begin while it was all just slipping away
And I'm tired of waiting for tomorrow to come or that train to come roaring 'round the bend
I got a new set of clothes and a pretty red rose and a woman I can call my friend"
-Bruce Springsteen


In some respects, it's gotten even more difficult these days for me to describe the world around me and how I feel about living in it.  Not good for someone with a casual commitment to writing that spans over 12 years.  We have a global pandemic that seems to be creeping within everyone's six degrees of separation.  We also have a president who, instead of dealing with the pandemic, is instead holed up in the White House, pouting over an election loss he still will not publicly acknowledge.  And conniving...lots of conniving.  Could we maybe take, say, 40% of that energy spent conniving and re-deploy it towards helping people instead?

I know the above sounds very gloom-n-doom.  I do, however, remind myself of what Oscar Wilde wrote many years ago...


...and one of the things that the pandemic has taught us is that we really are all in the same gutter.  

Another consequence of these days is the fact that many of us, including me, are robbed of the ability to see family members over the holidays.  With two of my three daughters living in other states, the opportunities to actually get together are normally few and far between; for the 2020 holidays that changes from "few" to "non-existent".  That's part though of the larger paradox of parenthood though, namely that we raise our children with the intent of them being able to be independent and successful on their own, but yet achieving that goal comes at a cost.  COVID is a kind of rapid inflation of that cost.  Luckily I have a daughter who lives locally, a loving and understanding wife, two stepsons, and a few cats.

I get the fact though that some people have virtually no one.  And among the cruelties of life, being alone during a pandemic is probably near the top of the list.  That very fact is probably one of the better arguments for an after-life though:  There should some be some kind of cosmic recompense for those who suffer in that kind of way in this life.

Technical note:  This posting is already full of typos.  More are probably lying in wait, and my 4.5 hours of sleep last night probably isn't going to be of much help in ferreting them out.

In any event, we have no choice but to be here where we are now.  I also am reminded that nothing in life is permanent, including petulant man-child presidents and pandemics.  Maybe Thanksgiving is even more important in 2020 than ever before, serving as a reminder that even in the seemingly worst of times there are always things to be thankful for, even if we do have to look really hard.
 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

What the Elections Results Mean

The United States presidential election effectively ended today, with media outlets (including the conservative FoxNews) declaring Scranton native Joe Biden to be the next President.  There will be court challenges by the current president, but (so far) they are based on accusations, not facts.  To those that claim "fraud!", I will say this:

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"

I personally think the chances of a change in the election results are minimal, at best.  However, if the courts do intervene on the side of the president by changing the election results, it will amount to a judicial coup and this nation will no longer exist as a democracy.  As it stands, the current (for now) administration is leaving this nation stained; let's hope most of that stain can eventually be washed away.

As for how I personally feel about the results, I can think of no one who has said it better than CNN commentator Van Jones.


This is an opportunity.  I hope that the nation can seize it and rise up to our promise.  We're better than what we've been in the past four years.  We need, at a very basic level, to get back to basic human decency, including caring for the least of our brothers and sisters.  We need to move back to a government that serves all of us, not existing simply to serve one man (and his family) in power.  We need the era of the presidential rage-tweet to end and the era of Presidential compassion and service to others to begin.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Election Day 2020

 This pretty much says it all.


Here's to finding ourselves, and the better angels of our nation.