I’m a damn lucky guy. I have a lot to be thankful for.
Sometimes, I just need to remind myself of that. The past few months have dragged me down a bit.
I’ve experienced the loss of my best friend to cancer in December, and more recently two favorite uncles died within a week’s time. Without going into specifics, work has been a real roller coaster ride with new technology, a new boss and new marching orders.
On top of all that, I’ve been battling a sinus infection — and all that entails — for more than two months, which three rounds of anti-biotics have failed to eliminate. I have a surgery scheduled for later this month that will hopefully correct things.
It’s been a strange brew. At times, it has left me exhausted, suffering from periodic insomnia and in a depressed and/or cranky mood.
I was in one of those moods when I left for work recently (I was actually a little late for an assignment) at the local trout hatchery, where I was scheduled to interview hatchery staff and volunteers who were stocking trout in local streams.
One of the volunteers I interviewed asked me why I was taking notes and talking to everyone. I explained I was an outdoors writer and writing a story for the newspaper.
“And that puts food on the table?” he said.
His question jolted me. I smiled.
“Yes, it does” I responded.
“You’re very lucky,” he said.
Several days later, while covering the opening of the trout fishing season, I stopped for a piece of pizza for lunch at a place in Moravia. I had my laptop computer out and I was filing a story on deadline. I had my hunting jacket on.
Nearby, three guys who appeared to be in the early 30s were complaining about their jobs, and how one of them had recently gotten out of the roofing business.
“I couldn’t stand the seven days a week schedule, and it was too rough on my body. I needed to find something else,” said one.
Then one guy, noticing me working on my laptop at the next table, turned to me and asked, “What are you doing on that computer?”
“I’m a reporter. I’m working on a story for the newspaper about the opening day of trout season,” I responded.
“I like to write. I always wanted a job like that. Don’t you feel fortunate to be doing that for a living?” he said.
Once again, it hit me – in a good way. I smiled and said, “Yes, humbled and blessed.”
When I was growing up, there was always a magazine on our coffee table from the Catholic Missionaries. On the cover of every issue was the sentence, “I cried because I had no shoes, and then I saw someone who had no feet.”
Looking at the big picture, I do have a lot of things that are going right in my life. I have Laura, a beautiful, supportive wife whom I love dearly. We have two, motivated and talented kids who are finding their way in life. It’s a joy to watch.
Laura and I both have jobs. Everyone is in good health. Nobody is hooked on drugs or in jail.
So why have I been in such a bad mood lately?
It’s all about attitude. Laura told me something the other day as I was complaining before heading off to work.
“There’s a lot of things you can’t change in life,” she said. “The one thing you do have control over, though, is your attitude.”
It’s easy to say. You just have to believe it and follow through.
Life is too short to walk around all day underneath a cloud. Make an effort to smile and be positive to your family and coworkers. Take a moment each day and give thanks for what you have, as opposed to focusing on what you’re lacking or what’s going wrong.
Only then will you realize how lucky you really are.