Whiting column: Thankfulness is a part of persistence
When things are going bad, the key is to keep going.
With inflation, Russia, China and the Middle East all working against us, we need to be a moving target. An initial component of persistence is focusing on the opposite side of the equation: the aspects of our lives for which we should be thankful.
We should be thankful Noah took two coffee beans on the Ark, and that every day has a happy hour — it’s called a nap.
We should be thankful to have learned to pick our battles. A bulldog can whip a skunk, but sometimes it’s not worth it. We shouldn’t criticize someone before we have walked a mile in their shoes. If they get mad, they’re a mile away and don’t have shoes.
We have ascertained many people don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s like when men buy a car, beer or lingerie. We don’t know anything about it, but we buy it to get what’s inside.
We’re thankful people don’t come back as animals. Chickens don’t die of natural causes.
We have learned it doesn’t pay to be a smart aleck.
In middle school, a group of us, for the first time, got in trouble to the point the local sheriff gave each of us a ride home. I had already learned it was best to be “straight” with my father when I screwed up. I told him what we had done but wasn’t smart enough to leave it alone. I followed up with, “But it’s OK. Jesus died so God would forgive us our sins.” “Yes, he will,” Dad replied. “Well with all the forgiving he has to do, I figured God needed a good challenge.” Not a smart response on my part.
Thankfully, education comes in many forms. We learned physics through real-world application. Our high school principal was a negative person, not one to support any activities our student council wished to undertake. After one particularly frustrating meeting, we learned about motion. We put the principal’s rear axle up on blocks, the wheels just off the ground. No matter how much gas he applied, motion didn’t occur. We subsequently learned about traction and acceleration when he rocked the car enough it came off the blocks. The next lesson was momentum and the Pauli Exclusion principle when he hit the light pole. We learned some people don’t have a sense of humor.
We’re thankful we have the right to be stupid, but sometimes we abuse the privilege. It’s nice we’re not a pair of brown shoes, because the whole world is a tuxedo.
Because life always provides new opportunities, we should be the opportunist. That way we can drink the water while the optimist and pessimist argue about how full the glass is. Opportunists can open a restaurant call “Karma.” A menu wouldn’t be necessary. Customers would only get what they deserved.
Technology provides an opportunity to gain experience. Your iPhone will either hold 5,000 songs or one voice mail from your mother.
If we listen, life will tell us the direction we should take. As a young man, I wanted to be a concert pianist. Experiences were showing me it was a difficult way to make a living. The final straw was when the Steinway people asked me to tell the audience I was using a Baldwin piano.
We’ve learned that no matter how bad we feel our life is going, there’s always someone whose situation is worse. Just think if you were James, Jesus’ younger brother. If living up to that wasn’t tough enough, after James did something wrong, we can imagine his parents saying, “Can’t you be more like Jesus?” If that wasn’t bad enough, people started making “WWJD” bracelets. Hopefully, no one was selling “DDWJD” (Don’t do what James did).
Thankfully, practical jokes can still be politically correct, and comebacks are acceptable. On our basketball coach’s birthday, we opened the door of his first-year biology classroom, and 10 of us emptied our squirt guns on him. After practice he turned off the water halfway through our showers and hid the towels on the free throw line.
Real world penalties are the most effective. After school one winter day, the principal knocked on my classroom window and motioned me to come outside. He was holding an armload of snowballs. Standing against the brick wall were three seniors. “Can you believe these young men were throwing snowballs at the middle schoolers? Here, take half these snowballs.” He looked straight at them and said, “Run.” Their quizzical looks were followed by another “Run.” We pelted them with their own snowballs as they took off.
We’re thankful for the wisdom of fathers. I once asked my father how many honest men I need to know. He thought for a moment and responded, “One. You.”
Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of non-partisan economics rather than government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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