Finding Your Thanks

It’s so easy. It’s so easy to feel bad. It’s so easy to feel sorry for ourselves. I’ve certainly been in that place many days the past few months. And when I think globally there is much over which we can fret and literally millions of people to worry about. It seems that there always has been, and I fear always will be. Will we ever get closer to that more perfect union–that shining city on the hill?

So, let me share this song with you that I hope you can take a few minutes to listen to. It’s an update of a song originally written by Stephen Foster and published in New York by Firth, Pond & Co. in 1854 as Foster’s Melodies No. 28. I changed a few lines to bring in some modern characters that I think fit the plight of the less fortunate that Foster was writing about almost 170 years ago. Many in our world, by simple coincidence of where they are born, either have a distinct advantage and doorway to a comfortable life (such as me), but for the majority of the people this planet, that simply is not the case. A better life is just something to dream about. The older I get, the more my heart aches over that inequity that seems built into the world we have made for ourselves.

It’s so easy. It’s so easy to feel bad. It’s so easy to feel sorry for ourselves. But then again…

For many of us, including me, the impact of the pandemic has been inconvenience and isolation from loved ones. That, however, is not a significant hardship when compared to those that have lost loved ones, lost careers, businesses, homes, life savings. Previous generations survived a depression, dust bowl, and then fought the Nazis. The Dakota, Lakota, and Ojibwe peoples indigenous to my region of North America survived, are still surviving, isolation to reservations, forced starvation, children ripped away to boarding schools, and outright genocide. Many of us are running out of things to watch on Netflix. We will survive. Our kids will survive the limited participation in organized sports, activities, and sleepovers for a few months–even a year.

I don’t want to minimize what the fortunate among us are experiencing so I’m not going to sit here and tell you what to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. It’s a baggage-filled holiday. Do with it what you need to–if anything.

This brings me to another song that I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to. It might not surprise you that I’m a thinker and worrier. When I was a kid, I often had difficulty falling asleep. I can recall many times sitting up in my bed in the wee hours of the night and looking out at the street, lit up by a streetlight, and feeling as if I was the only person alive at that moment. Now as an adult I don’t have trouble falling asleep, but I have trouble staying asleep, and still find myself awake in the wee hours when troubled by something. I was thinking of those times when I built a song around the phrase “The dark before the dawn.” I have found that though I feel all alone at those times, I am blessed with family and friends which provides a much different reality than those feelings of loneliness. So, that’s what this song is about–recognizing where one’s strength comes from during the “dark before the dawn.”

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