What are you grateful for this year?
Too many times in life we look at the glass half empty. We see the bad in everyone and everything and these days we seem to throw hate and wish misfortune on those who don't agree with us.
That needs to change.
We all should remember for all the bad things that happen, for all the struggles and challenges we face, all of us have at least one thing we can or should be grateful for. And no matter how big or how small that thing is, it can grow into something more.
Really it can. You just have to make the effort to do it.
With all of that being said, in the spirit of the holiday season, I'm going to list all of things I am grateful for. My list includes a lot of sports stuff, but things in life too.
What's on your list??
Of course the thing I am most grateful for is/are my family. My wife and our two dogs (Maggie and Rosie). Without them in my life, I don't know if I could wake up and make it through the day. Any day. My love for them knows no bounds and never will
Friends. They are all better people than me, all of them. Despite my horrible track record of staying in touch and keeping up with them, they are still my friends and are always happy to talk whenever I do come out of my shell and contact them. Their presence in my life keeps me balanced and keeps me honest. You all know who you are and if I sat here and thanked each of you every day for the next 10-years, it would never be enough.
My parents. Unfortunately, my dad passed away several years back (2012). I miss having him still in my life every single day. My mom is still here and we talk at least once or twice a week, every week. I have been blessed with parents who let me learn and experience life the way I wanted to do it. Despite them wanting to fix every problem or issue that came up, they let me learn for myself which is the best way to grow up I could ever think of.
The people I work with. There are days and times where I lose interest in my work. My career choice is one that I made many decades ago and I've stuck to it. Even though my profession is often maligned and criticized, there are few things about it I'd ever change. And I finally found a workplace where even if I'm having a bad day, I'm surrounded by amazing, empathetic people who understand and will always make me smile and laugh.
My life long love of the Atlanta Braves. While I love all things sports and always have, the Braves are the closest to my heart and have always been. Even though I didn't get to go to the World Series in person this time, seeing them win in 2021, was arguably one of my top 10 life moments ever. That made every minute of the good not great Braves teams over the past two decades worth every bit of the struggle.
College Football. I complain about this one a lot but I still love everything about the game. The history, pageantry and fandom (particularly here in the south) fascinates and never ceases to amaze me. College Football has a zillion flaws, but I love it despite them all. There is nothing more exciting than an October or November rivalry game in person. If you've never attended a game, it's worth going, no matter the school.
The Miami Dolphins. Admittedly my NFL love has waned as we don't hear much other than Aaron Rodgers, Dallas Cowboys, Tom Brady and occasionally the New England Patriots. Nothing else NFL ever makes SportsCenter. Or if it does, it's barely a mention. And that's sad. As a Miami Dolphins fan, I want to know about my favorite team. I don't need to hear about them every day on every opinion show, but an occasional deep dive would be nice.
Hank Aaron: Yes, I know "Hammer" passed away this past year. But I can't ever think of him and not smile. I know the history and the backstory and his greatness. I'm just thankful that I got to not only meet him, but talk with him. I've never been more scared to talk with anyone in my life and between the smile and conversation about life and baseball, I'll always be able to say I got to talk to and spend time with truly one of the great men in history. That will always make me happy.
Discovering new music. My wife and I take pride in discovering and enjoying music on a daily basis. It keeps us grounded and happy. This year alone, I discovered multiple new artists and got reacquainted with some old favorites. I learned about Lake Street Dive, Holly Humberstone, Phoebe Bridgers along with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit and am now a huge fan of them all. I came to realize that people like Chris Stapleton and Bandi Carlisle and Kelsey Ballerini produce some amazing music that I might not have listened to in the past but I will always stop and listen to now. And I got to see the Foo Fighters perform live for the 5th time. I saw Living Colour play live 30-years after their run of popularity and realized even today, they are incredibly talented, put on a fantastic live show and have been overlooked for decades.
Things I wish for other people:
Empathy for others. I so wish that everyone would understand that there are hundreds of millions of people in the U.S and billions in the world. Not everyone is going to live the same life as you. Please understand this and that just because you and/or the people in your life believe or feel one thing, not everyone feels the same way you do. And that's ok. It makes us who we are.
Stop talking about politics: Politics may now be the most horrific thing in the world (or at least the U.S.). It should not ever permeate or daily lives yet all we do is argue about it. Why? Who cares if you support one political party or politician and I support something different. There should be nothing wrong with that. EVER. We don't have to agree on things politicians tell us we should believe in. That doesn't make them, you or me wrong, it just means we have differing opinions. Politics have become and nasty, evil sport that seems to thrive on hate which by its nature is the worst possible thing. Hate and disagreement are two different things. We should not ever HATE our neighbors--or anyone else just because we disagree with them. Why can't we just respect someone else's opinion, agree to disagree and move on?
Stop assuming things about others. There are people who have things much harder than you do. Please understand that just because a person or family is struggling or lives in different conditions than you, it doesn't make them lesser than you. We should never stereotype anyone or any group of people at any time. If someone is happy with who they are or what kind of life they live, it should always be celebrated. Happiness is everything and always should be. Don't hate and don't assume things about people you don't know. Unless you have walked in their shoes, you don't know what their daily life is like. There are good and bad people everywhere. Ideally everyone should be good and successful but due to circumstance, upbringing, tragedy or some other life incident sociological reason, there are people who do bad things to others. It's never good, but it is life.
I guess the point of this column is simple. We all have things that we have and should be grateful and thankful for in our own way. All of us. And rather than try to focus on things that divide us, rejoice and enjoy the things that make us all the individuals that we are.
Whenever you here someone say "Everyone says" or "Everyone does it" don't believe it. Not for a minute. The one single thing that makes every last one of us unique is that we are not everyone and there is not a single, solitary person alive who speaks for every single individual. There will never be a unanimous agreement about anything. Because of the amount of people on the planet, it's not mathematically possible.
At the end of each and every day, when the sun goes down, no matter what we're told to believe or think about other people, please remember this: We're all a bunch of individuals living on the same planet at the same time. We may not all agree on the best path to success and a happy life and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Those individual experiences make us who we are. You don't have to love someone else just because they exist in the same universe as you. Just respect the fact that they occupy part of the same universe and for that reason alone have the right to live their best lives too.
Respect for everyone who's not you will make you a happier person and the world a happier place.
IF there's no other thing you get out of this story, see the previous sentence, It's what I strive for every day.