Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday's Words for October 15, 2008

This past Monday was Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Times are scary for a lot of people all over the world right now. What the future will bring is really a case, for most of us, of wait and see – and that is a really hard stance to take in this age when we have all become accustomed to the things we want being much more immediately attainable.

Will the stock market re-bound? Will our pension plans and investments recover? Will our houses increase in value back up to what they were when we purchased them so that if we have to sell them we can at the very least break even? My instincts tell me the ultimate answer to all of these questions is ‘yes’; but the correct response is: we just have to wait and see.

I have learned over the course of many years that the best way for me to get through a period of uncertainty is to focus on the things that I’m grateful for. Note, I said that is a learned behavior, because it runs counter to my nature, and I would imagine counter to most everyone’s nature.

When times are tough, when people feel threatened, our natures generally give us two choices: fight or flight. There is a lot of anger and ‘fight’ showing these days as anyone who watches the news or TV shows like The View, or who reads polls or letters to the editor can attest. I’m sure there’s lots of “flight” happening as well, but the character of that response is such that it isn’t always easy for us to see.

So it’s counter to our “human animal” nature to respond to times of stress with an intellectual or spiritual tactic. But I happen to believe that one of life’s purposes is to provide us with opportunities to rise above the base creatures we were born—to rise above our natures.

There are so many things for which I am grateful. The top of the list, of course, is my family. I had parents who were in love with each other—my mother never even dated another man after my father passed, and she was a reasonably young widow of 45. I have a brother and a sister, both of whom I still have good relationships with. I’m grateful for my husband and the thirty-six years so far that we’ve been together. My children and grandchildren continue to be a source of joy and pride for me.

I’m grateful to still be alive—I nearly died six years ago when I had emergency triple by-pass surgery. I’m grateful to be as healthy as I am—I’ve already lived longer than my father did, and will surpass my mother’s lifespan in two more years.

We own our home, and while it is a humble abode it is all ours mortgage free, and I’m grateful for that. My husband has a good job doing what he enjoys, and has been with his employer for thirty years and we are both grateful for that. I have a computer and am very blessed to be able to spend my days doing what I love to do above all else—writing.

Those are what you could call the big ticket items for which I give thanks on a regular basis. But there are other items on my list. I’m grateful for the hard times I’ve been through, because now I know that I can rise to the challenge when necessary, and I know that I can survive with a lot less than I sometimes think I can. As well, when I am not going through really tough challenges I know how lucky I am then, too.

I’m grateful that I’m neither rich nor famous (I really am) , because I know my friends are my friends because they love me and not because of money or notoriety.

I’m grateful to be a Canadian and a North American, to live in a country, and on a continent, that embraces the concepts of freedom and the rule of law. Despite what I felt about some of the candidates running for office (our election was yesterday), I really don’t have to fear some despot coming to power and turning our society into a living nightmare, usurping our laws and our way of life.

And I’m grateful I’m able to post this essay every week and that, for the most part, you all don’t mind overmuch. Because what’s the point of being a writer if no one reads your words? But you do read, and sometimes you even write back.

And for that I am very, very grateful.


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