Today is the 4 year anniversary of my father’s death.
Every year this day brings some new aspect of my dad to mind. This year, probably due to some things happening with people I know, what comes to mind is my dad’s gentleness. He was a badass. A superstar athlete and minor league baseball player. He cussed, and he had a temper. He could get so mad…
…but he was always gentle with me, my mom, and other people. He was gentle. Not just in his actions, but in his words. There was never anything approaching verbal abuse in our house. There was never a need to fear being around him. Loving, gentle, and supportive to the end. That was my dad.
The holiday season is once again at our throats. Thanksgiving is still a few days away, but the Christmas stuff is already on TV and the retail business analysts are already making their predictions for this year’s consumer orgy.
As I have written in the past, while I’m not a big fan of traditional Thanksgiving food, I do like the sentiment of the holiday. There’s a lot in the world to complain about, and most of us take every opportunity to do just that. We love to get our complain on.
Thankful I am not one of these birds.
Now, as a secular humanist I feel kind of weird saying I am “thankful” , as that indicates I am thankful to some supernatural being who has “blessed” me. Even if I believed in some personal supernatural life-manager, it seems kind of arrogant and wrong to celebrate the blessings he/she/it/them have conferred on me whilst simultaneously leaving others in worse, indeed sometimes dire, situations. Like the millions in the world who live on essentially no money, don’t have clean water, etc, etc, etc. You get the picture.
Truth is, most of us who celebrate this holiday are just lucky to be in a situation where we can think about celebrating and being thankful for all the good things. Just lucky. That’s it. We’re not “good”, we’re not “better”. Just sheer makes-no-sense, why-am-I-me-and-not-someone-else, born into relative prosperity luck.
But if it makes you feel better to think that for some reason the gods have smiled upon your more than your neighbor, well, then knock yourself out. It really doesn’t matter, because it’s still just luck.
All that being said, and as I’ve said in previous years, I think it is a good practice to at least once a year recognize how lucky you are. Have some gratitude to the Lords of Chaos for allowing random chance to benefit you. A day to recognize what isn’t fucked up in your life. If your life really does suck, well, there’s always someone with flesh eating bacteria consuming a leg or internal organ, so take some satisfaction in the fact that it isn’t you (unless that’s you too).
So here’s a list of people/things/stuff/etc that I am thankful to nothing in particular for:
my wife – so proud of her, and thankful that she is supportive of my endeavors.
my aunts and uncles
the rest of my family – cousins, etc. Such good people.
my in-law family
my nieces and nephews, who are a beacon of all that is good.
skateboarding, of course
relative health — you know — I have a few aches and pains, but overall I feel pretty good for a beat-up aging skateboarder
Aikido – which has changed my life and made me better
My job – I get to work in a profession that does good works for our community, I get to have fun with it, and they pay me.
My loving grandparents, all of whom I miss, and all of whom were supportive.
Grateful that thus far in my life a giant meteor hasn’t obliterated Earth.
Grateful to have had a dad who was supportive, loving, and positive, and who taught me to cuss really well.
Grateful for the knowledge that this is all just temporary, everything dies, so there is really nothing to fear.
My Aikido teacher.
My Aikido dojo – where you can forget all your problems because someone’s fist is heading toward your face.
Books and literature – through which we can see the world through other’s eyes.
My cats – all of ’em dead and alive.
Especially my nephew Alex, who is growing up too fast, but makes me proud every day, and happy every time I think of him.