With my favorite holiday rapidly approaching, I thought it might be fun to do dive right into a column departure today. I can’t remember if I’ve previously mentioned this, but gratitude is the most powerful force in the Universe. Don’t worry! I’m not goin’ all New Agey on you, it’s just that blessings tend to multiply when you appreciate those you already have.
So, here goes!
I’m very grateful I live in a time when medicine can so effectively cope with pesky pandemics and a host of other physical issues. Thanks to medical advances in my lifetime, my once severe hereditary asthma is virtually non-existent, and that consarned inherited high blood pressure is very easy to control with an eminently inexpensive pharmaceutical.
We won’t even discuss the horror they once called dental work. And speaking of dentists, I’m grateful for Drs. Horton and Vranas of St. Charles who are the only dentists who can effectively tackle my worsening Novocain immunity. (Only Jeff Ward, right?)
Dental work is no fun if you can’t get numb! The bottom line is I’m beyond thankful for my astonishingly good health and grateful to the MDs that got me here!
In addition to those amazing healthcare possibilities, I’m thrilled to live at a time when some truly amazing technology enables me to do so many of the things I truly love to do.
The late, great Mike Royko had to rely on typewriters, typesetters, assistants, and a team of investigative legmen to pull off what he did. All I need is a computer and the Internet. I’m also grateful for the kind of stellar sources that allow me to beat the local – and even the major – papers on a regular basis.
Without great sources, none of the technology would matter.
Though as a minor downside aside, after amassing music to the tune of 7,000 LPs and 5,000 CDs, it’s still find it very difficult to comprehend the reality that, for a more than reasonable subscription fee, I can ask Alexa to play any song I’ve ever purchased!
And you can buy a robotic vacuum! What more could I possibly say?
This one might sound a bit strange coming from me, but whether it’s surviving the Unabomb investigation or my more recent follies, I’m grateful for the kind of legal system that’s allowed justice to prevail over the long haul. Of course, it always helps to have stellar attorneys like Jeff Meyer (Klein, Stoddard, Buck, and Lewis) by your side, particularly when you’re so prone to speaking your mind.
As good as it can be, on occasion, the system does require the appropriate kick in the ass.
Though we’re certainly enduring some 245-year-old growing pains, considering all of the above, I can’t imagine living in any other country. It may be a messy proposition, but free speech and religion reign supreme, peaceful power transitions are (generally) the norm, the American Dream is alive and well, and our grocery stores are the ninth wonder of the modern world.
If I was born in China, Russia – or any number of European countries who’ve give up on the whole free speech thing – I’d be spending a great deal of my life in the pokey. We won’t even discuss the possibility of living in a Third World dust bowl.
On a more personal level, I truly appreciate my family for so consistently supporting my efforts to take the road (far) less travelled. I’m sure you’ll find this hard to believe, but I’m not the easiest person to live with!
Basically, Mr. Frost was right! The “road less taken” is always far more fascinating.
Since I can’t help being a smartass, I’m also grateful that my birth family has disowned me. Life is too short to have miserable Thanksgiving days. To wit, only New Year’s surpasses Turkey Day for domestic violence police calls. And I’m beyond thankful the rampant alcoholism that’s ravaged my family somehow skipped me.
Don’t ever forget that it’s almost always better to be lucky than smart. Oh! And we generally tend to make our own luck, too!
One of my favorite sayings is, “You can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your family,” but despite its aptness, it falls short. As we’ve previously discussed, my father told me said that if you have one really good friend who’s willing to support and constructively criticize you, then you’re doing alright.
I’m not sure how the fuck it happened, but I’m fortunate have about 40 such friends. Perhaps it’s the whole lucky and smart thing at work again.
Considering it’s propensity to get me in trouble, there are days I’d trade this warp-speed, semi-autistic, massively ADHD brain for just about anyone else’s. But in the end, I’m grateful for that, too!
It consistently provides me with a unique and unbiased perspective. Through 15 years of over 3,000 columns, I’ve never known writer’s block. It’s capacity to rapidly process a multitude of variables grants me the kind of money managing capacity that’s bestowed the too-rare privilege of doing exactly what I want to do.
With rare exception, for the last 20 years I feel like I haven’t worked a day in my life! And I’m doin’ alright at sports betting, too!
Lastly, but certainly not leastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t end this with the obvious fact that, without my abundantly intelligent readers, I wouldn’t get to be a journalist. And if I wasn’t a journalist, well, I’m sure you can only imagine… Serial killer, perhaps?
So, with all of your favorite things in mind, let’s all have a healthy, happy, and safe Thanksgiving. The bad guys can wait until next week!
I’m also exceedingly grateful for one of my favorite reader’s recent $250 First Ward donation! That was an exceedingly generous gesture that goes a long way towards lifting my spirits at a time when spirit lifting is so badly needed.
The truth is, before briefly branching out to do the podcast, some of you were regular contributors. You know I’m not a hard sell guy and I’d write regardless, but I would be tickled pink if those regularly donations started rolling in one more time.
You also know that good journalism is near and dear to my heart, but it’s a LOT of work, and it’s quite heartening when my readers show that kind of financial appreciation. The “donate” button is toward the upper right of your screen.