FAIR OAKS, Calif. - Dawn, Thanksgiving Day morning. At 37 degrees, it is cold for these parts. The world is quiet - there is much to be grateful for. These pages, for almost two years and in many of nearly 300 posts, have reflected this irrefutable fact. Personally to be sure, my lot in life has improved beyond what I ever dreamed possible. Just a few short years ago, my imagination wasn’t that big… I didn’t even dare hope for what has proven to be a life beyond my wildest dreams.
I used to believe that fame and fortune, or at least fortune, would bring contentedness. Although even in my younger years the evidence did not support this notion, there are even more profound examples today. I thought happiness was an externally influenced reality… that stuff would make me whole. It never did. It never could. I never knew. It seemed so simple: Get what I want when I want it and happiness followed. Unfortunately or not, gain without pain is a rather hollow victory and never satisfying. Stuff is a byproduct of happiness, success follows effort, effort creates worth and all of that brings all that stuff that I thought I needed so badly. I like my stuff, but is has nothing to do with who I am.
The list of gratitude is endless. I give thanks on a daily basis. Of late, it is not so much for the material items in my life, but more for those intangible qualities that have created them. Success can be measured in a number of ways. Today I am most grateful for the people in my life. My friends and family have always meant the world to me… but today I am part of that world. It is beautifully simple. I am now a participant in my own life; I am not just watching it go by. By placing one foot ahead of the other and living one day at a time, I have found peace in my world.
And my world is a subset of our world, a world that is in desperate need of more peace. There is plenty wrong in the world today, but if one looks hard enough, there is plenty right as well. It is my business to keep an eye on the government and this one has kept me busy. But even with all the mistakes, some of them monumental, no administration is bigger than this nation or, perhaps more accurately, the people of America. We, as a nation, have worked hard, sacrificed much and above all persevered even when there was not much hope. And we made it.
These are characteristics that Americans for generations have held close. There are times when it appears that we have perhaps become too comfortable, that we are resting on our collective laurels… that we are moving towards national retirement. Perhaps there is some truth to this perception; maybe with the ebb and flow of social evolution, we are facing generational indifference. Could it be that the apathy I was living is reflective of a population on cruise control? Maybe, but it is never too late to wake up and get moving. I am certain that my greatest days are ahead of me and likewise, so are America’s.
It helps if you believe it. So on Thanksgiving today, let us not only give thanks and reflect on how fortunate we are, let us also rededicate ourselves to our greatness personally… and nationally. Let us show the world not how powerful we are, but how benevolent America’s people are. Let’s remember our strength is not in our size or our wealth but in our compassion and our generosity. And let us not forget that it was the sacrifice and work of our predecessors to whom we owe our good fortune. Give thanks, yes, but also give your word, your sweat and your dedication, for these are the qualities that made this nation great. Our best days are still ahead of us.