Monday, I had to wake up the middle son twice from unscheduled snoozes, so he could do his homework. He never did. My daughter, the youngest, needed a book for school, so I went off in the driving rain to purchase it. My oldest, Sophistpundit (aka Cloud Culture) was nowhere to be found. My wife went into one of those globalization meetings with China at 8:30 p.m. — and did not emerge until after ten.
I spent the night alone. I went to bed grumbling and grouchy.
The day after, I reflected. How many, I wondered, would trade their best hours for my complaints? I was safe and sound. My belly was full. I had meandered about, dismayed, in our fair-sized house in happy Fairfax, Virginia. I had voted for president not three weeks ago. The political parties had switched power positions, but the streets were empty of rioters. We were supposed to be in a deep economic crisis, yet I personally knew several persons whose chief dream was to be able to stay in this country as residents: hard work had already earned them a good life.
Machiavelli wrote that fifty percent of every human life depended on pure chance. My late father, a wiser man by far than Machiavelli, always said, “The most important thing in life is good luck. And the most important kind of luck is the family you are born into.”
Lucky the man whose idea of a night alone includes waking up his sleepy teenage son and buying a book for his brainy teenage daughter. Lucky the man who sulks in solitude because his son the graduate student is off with his friends rather than home talking to him. Lucky the man whose wife, like mine, works long hours yet keeps the family in working order, and — with a generosity of spirit that defies belief — puts up with a grouchy husband on an off night.
Impersonating Polyanna is forbidden to a moralist. I don’t play the glad game. I know that the fate that felled our innocent (but enormous) Thanksgiving turkey will come to me soon enough. But if, before then, my worst moments resemble Monday night, I will depart from the stage of the world grateful to the end for the part that was given me.