Sunday, December 11, 2011

Count Your Blessings

How many times have we been reminded to count our blessings?  My parents often used that phrase when I was a younger.  Their lives were influenced by the Great Depression and the tough times they endured and this indirectly affected me. 
My father was too young for WWI and too old for WWII but he lived his 30’s during the depression.  Likewise my father-in-law knew the depression era first hand.  Both of these men influenced my life at different times.  While neither became destitute or homeless then, neither lived a financially comfortable life.  They taught me valuable life lessons about work and character.  I started my work career around 15 years of age delivering newspapers and for the first eight years of my married life I worked two or three jobs (and went to college fulltime for three of those years).  Both my father (Henry) and father-in-law (Charlie) retired and then went to work at other jobs for several more years. 
As a teenager I knew that I would have to pay for college on my own.  That’s just the way it was.  I paid for my car insurance and gas in high school, worked for nine months between high school and college, and every break thereafter.  Later, my father-in-law found work for me as a temporary parking lot attendant when I returned to college after my 3 years in the army.  Surprisingly enough, last week a volunteer at a local non-profit agency’s holiday fair complemented me on my parking ability as he directed traffic.  He gave me an A+, thanks Charlie.
Now many years later I feel that work is part of my life.  I can’t imagine not working; it doesn’t seem like a chore.  It is just something I do.  Thanks Henry and Charlie.

Economic times are tough again; unemployment is high and people are out of work for long periods of times.  Most troubling is that retirement plans are delayed or drastically changed for many Americans.  Many people now endure hardships that they couldn’t imagine a few years ago.
The phrase, “Count your blessings” echoes in my head.  I have my health, work and a great wife.  It is raining outside and I am sitting in a warm kitchen typing away.  My wife is organizing for our next vacation. 
But we both know that conditions could change in a moment.  Several weeks ago my internist examined me and thought my heart rate was too low.  He said I was either a well-trained athlete or had a problem.  A trip to the cardiologist’s office and a day with a 24-hour heart monitor found no major issues of concern; the visit to the cardiologist ended with a see me in a year appointment and instructions to call him if I experience any symptoms of fainting or dizziness.  No major areas of concern but notice of possible issues in the future. 
I may not actually count my blessings but I am aware that my life is in decent shape.  I am not ignoring life and the likelihood of changes but I prefer not to let the unknown future diminish my appreciation of the today.  Changes will occur and I wait for them.  Some will be tolerable, others problematic.  Worry will not mitigate the effects of those changes on my life.  
Superstition is not one of my traits but if I counted my blessings I might jinx things or tempt fate.  Hubris is a quality that I don’t possess in sufficient quantity to mess with God, fate, the gods or the randomness of life.
KISS:  Knock on Something Solid. 

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