#1 I am grateful for a pension and health insurance. One of the things that hit me recently about a pension is this: A large number of young post high-school people in America are unemployed; have been unemployed for a long period of time; and some will remain unemployed for many years in the future. And then there are people who are forced to work at a no-benefits part/time job; and/or more than one part-time job; none of which offers benefits. I wonder what will happen to these young citizens when they reach senior status, and have no pension to help them to live comfortably. Having health insurance allows me to not worry that I will be a burden to others if I become seriously ill; but also it gives me a great deal of preventable healthcare options with access to a full spectrum of medical specialist (and the older you get the longer the “specialist” list grows :-) I am always amazed at the difference in the cost of health care service and my co-pay. Of course health care cost are totally out of control; I once ask my pharmacist how much my prescription really cost, since I only paid $10.00. You know you really have a “serious senior” prescription when it does not have an end date! In any event, he told me jokingly “Mr. Johnson, you really don’t want to know”. Me ever inquisitive: “Yes, I really do”. He went to his computer and punched a few keys; and then he turned and gave me the per/pill cost. “What!” I said, “you must be kidding”. I did the calculation for the number he gave me X 30 X 12 in my head; I was stunned; $10.00 would not even buy me ½ of one pill! But we have (we have been given), only so that we may help those who don’t have.
#2 I am daily grateful for my website/blog. I have always enjoyed writing (I think it started with my high school creative writing elective class). But as a professional administrator I spent great deal of my time during the day writing things like memos, reports and letters. These activities draw from another section of the brain (other than the creative writing section). Blogging has become a form of meditation and meaningful work for me. It can be both a therapeutic, and spirit lifting daily exercise. Every day I am able to “speak to the universe” about something I find interesting, it can be a personal encounter, a news story or event; or an educational issue that I find important or interesting. Very often a topic is generated by a question or comment from a friend, a former student, as in the case of this “grateful” writing activity. I often wonder, now that I do it every day, what was I doing (thinking?), before I took this on as regular activity. I believe that every person has some type of creative art form inside of them. The society does its best to distract and cause us to deny that creative expression. And In a commercial driven society, people are told that they can’t act if they are not on Broadway, can’t dance if they are not a member of Alvin Ailey, can’t paint if they are not a Jacob Lawrence; I think this is wrong. Connected to creating meaning in your life is the ability to create art in your life. If you can engage the mysteries of the world; by exploring the mysteries inside of yourself; then you should do it; not for the money or fame, but for the joy of making sense of the world; and at the same time, make sense of the world inside of you.
#3 I am grateful on a daily basis for my sense of humor (and how many times have I heard: “I can’t believe (didn’t know) that you have such a sense of humor.” There are days you may need to tell a joke about yourself; and then follow-up by laughing at yourself. It is a wonderful way of not taking yourself, and this life too serious. I have found that over the years there is no better place to practice your stand up routine then in a high school. You will find no better audience or material for jokes; teenagers are the funniest members of our species; and despite what most people think, if they trust your intentions you can joke with them! Now my humor inclines towards the ironic, subtle and or mildly sarcastic. A minister once remarked after hearing me speak at an event, that my humor often requires that the listener have some “additional information in their mental libraries”. But no matter how well stocked your mental library; you must have a sense of humor, if you want to survive the daily madness of this world (a world ruled by money-changers and Madmen). If you respond to every insult, every attack on your personhood, every dismissal or denial; you will either end up crazy, in prison or dead. And so every day I look for, and I am grateful for the little funny things that can happen (or that I can make happen) in life; so that I can continue to daily do the very serious things in life.