Shhh – Hear That? It’s Thankfulness

I had intended to run a different post today. I’ve been pretty stoked about the idea of virtual reality, which is quickly becoming a reality as we speak. But as Thanksgiving approached, I decided to shelve that barely futuristic topic in favor of a holiday message. Virtual reality can wait a week, right?

We Americans are a hardy, progressive, industrious lot. We always have been. Working to be successful (whatever that really means) is bred into us the way blonde hair is bred into Norse gods. What we really have a hard time with is putting it all down and stopping to appreciate what we’ve managed to achieve and what we’ve been given. Our iPhones and Blackberries follow us around like puppies, and we spend infinite amounts of time soothing them. We go to sleep at night thinking of how to get ahead tomorrow, and some of us actually try to beat the sun to the punch. We’re all about the go, baby. We make it happen. But the last three years have tested us as a nation and as individuals. This economic mess has literally been the worst of our lifetimes, and we aren’t quite out of it yet. The nuclear blast may have subsided, but now we have to deal with the charred earth and put everything back together. Hard times, indeed. There are many, many talented people who cannot currently convince anyone to give them a job of any decent sort, and there are countless people working at jobs that come nowhere near being able to challenge their capacity or skills.

On the other hand

Things could be worse. That’s not an easy thing to hear when bills are due and at least 50% of the economic news is still bad. It’s not an easy thing to hear when you’ve lost a home or a car. Or when your 401k has been decimated, and you aren’t sure if you’ll ever be able to retire. It’s not easy to hear when a loved one will be overseas serving our nation for the holidays. Those are difficult things, and they’re painfully real. But those things can and do change. The real probability is that we’re closer to the end of “The Great Recession” than to the beginning. And for that, we can be thankful. But will we? Being thankful is easy when everything is going your way. It’s like being happy about winning the lottery, or saying the other team played great when you’ve just won. Much tougher is finding reasons to be thankful when things are gray and uncertain. Thankfulness during those times is real thankfulness. It’s understanding that you still have things around you that are incredibly important: Family, friends that would come if you needed them, and the ability to go challenge the world each day.

Life is currently far less than perfect for most of us. We have great challenges to overcome if we’re going to regain the momentum we had until three years ago. Three years is a long time to dwell in the dark cellar, and I have a feeling that we’re ready to climb toward the light of day. We live in The United States of America, and the one constant is the fantastic freedom to go and make big things happen. Singer Lee Greenwood’s legendary anthem of freedom has a few years on it now, but still has the power to move people to tears. In case you’ve forgotten, the intro phrase goes, “If tomorrow all things were gone I’d worked for all my life, and I had to start again with just my children and my wife, I’d thank my lucky stars to be living here today. Because the flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.” Rarely have words been put to paper that ring more true. And now is the perfect time to pause and really celebrate this most American of holidays – Thanksgiving. Gather people close to you, and smile for one another. Believe that the next year will be the beginning of a whole string of great years, and then put it all down for one day. Be still. Be thankful. And be happy.   – Alan

Lee Greenwood, singing “God Bless the USA.”

Still bringin’ the Americans to their feet, 25 years later

The modern day anthem even plays on American Idol


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