Some people expect a lot from life, and are perpetually disappointed. I keep waiting for the world to end. That makes me the thankful type.
It never ceases to amaze me that my life isn’t a complete mess. It has actually progressed, in small ways, toward goals I consider important. How did this happen?
I find it a pleasant daily surprise that my wife puts up with me — I’m not sure I would. Back in the beginning of time, she and I wanted three children. Strange adventures and doubts intervened, and the process took longer than it should have, but lo and behold: we ended up with the number we asked for.
I expected my children to go through the phases I and all my peers experienced: first the surly phase, then the silent phase, and finally the everlasting stupid phase. But they turned out to be a different species from the Baby Boomers. They think and they talk, sometimes simultaneously. They challenge the present without the posturing so favored by the Boomers, and without our nihilism.
My kids, and their generation, are virtual creatures as much as they are flesh and blood. They meet in Facebook and talk in Sametime. Unlike m-m-m-my generation, they really have something new to offer the world. I watch them in astonishment and joy.
I grew in the Sixties and became an adult in the Seventies. I thought the best economic times were behind me — tough slogging from now on. Boy, was I wrong. My eldest son, the Sophistpundit, born in the Reagan years, has known only mind-boggling prosperity his entire life. I myself still can’t believe it happened, but for him it’s just the way things are. For being able to provide such bounty for my children, I am endlessly thankful.
I look around me in the world, and I see civil wars, religious wars, suicide terror, demographic implosion, selfishness, and moral tribalism. It sometimes appears as though the cynics are contending for supremacy with the zealots. Then I peek outside my window at my neighbors, and I see disciplined, hard-working folk, full of care for friend and family, tolerant but rarely cynical, faithful but never fanatical. They love their country, like I do, in a quiet way — because it’s a great place in which to live, and raise a family, and watch a good game of baseball on a Friday night.
How did I come to live here, of all the places in this vast, tormented world? I could tell a story, but I won’t. Let’s just say that, when I consider not just the freedom and prosperity I enjoy, but the miseries I have escaped, I’m struck with amazement over my dumb good luck.
I’m thankful, this Thanksgiving and every other day of my life, to dwell in a house I own, with my wife and exactly three children, planted in my corner of Northern Virginia, U.S.A.