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Colors * Tribes * Cultures
We're stuck with our Color. What about your Tribe? Or my Culture? Thanksgiving is the perfect time to ask. Celebrating our first “Now-Normal” National Day of Thanks.
Housekeeping Duties: My output doesn’t change with the number of readers or paying subscribers I earn. I have learned to accept my successes as they come.
In this post, you will find some music, some stories, and some poignant and necessary words from Abraham Lincoln.
My hope is that you will find some reasons to be thankful. The gratitude I feel for my readers inspires and motivates me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Or one word after another.
Here is where I ask you to consider what my words mean to you. And if they bring any value to your life. And if that value is important enough for you to act upon.
This income stream provides financial support in my life. My readers care enough about this to recognize the value in this effort. Please join them by clicking the button to receive a special discount for Thanksgiving.
I have so much to be thankful for this year.
Welcome to this special Thanksgiving Wednesday post. I know that sounds counter-intuitive to some, but I find it true.
I quoted a writer here on Substack before saying something to the effect of (paraphrasing) “if you have something to eat and a safe dry place to sleep, you are better off than 99% of the world’s population.”
Think about that. You are one of 70 million people out of over 7 billion that are privileged. Are you acting like it?
December 30, 2021 is the one year mark for my platform. A million things have happened to the world, to me, and more than likely, to you too.
Writing and posting an average of 2000 words every single week for that year has been a privilege for me. The fact that hundreds of people take time from busy lives to read those words is simultaneously humbling and amazing.
The fact that 14 people pay for that pleasure astounds me. That’s that whole fear of success thing. As you read today’s post, consider all we are going through as a country.
Imagine 330 million people being forced to sit around the Thanksgiving Table. (I call kids table!) Easy for me, my family is a microcosm of the country’s polarization. Going around the horn of plenty, it’s your turn to say grace.
How many tribes around your table?
What is your tribe thankful for?
Have you expressed your gratitude?
Who’s in your tribe?
As we gather with our tribes on the first “Now-Normal” National Day of Thanks, what do we really have to be so damn thankful for?
I posit a lot. To discover the answer, though, requires some introspection and honesty. Here’s a few queries that power the wake-up train rumbling through my head at 3 am.
Who has been lost and who has been found?
What has been squandered and what has been earned?
Where have you been and where are you now?
Why did you keep going and not fall back?
How did you get here and is it all you wanted?
Who’s in your tribe?
I pray for my brothers and sisters behind the walls. Some experiencing their first behind bars and others their last. Still others will have spent dozens or more of these holidays without freedom. Some never will see freedom again.
Some by choice; others by chance. Intentions are irrelevant when the gavel bangs. The handcuffs bite, the shotgun racks and the bars slam. It truly is what it is.
I am very thankful that I am not in prison. I am less thankful for other circumstances currently in my life. Self-pity is an attention whore, and I personally pay extra to give her all she needs and wants.
But she is worse than the normal 3-day bender (I couldn't help myself, I had to explore that term!). Her hangover makes you miss life-shit, not just work-shit. But we blow the whole fucking paycheck on her. Talk about the hot-crazy matrix, right?
Happiness is an expectation-goal that alters the work put into achieving it. Like other expectation-goals, when an outcome is chased, it creates competing friction-forces in our psyche.
Our brains are hard-wired to seek the path of least resistance. When I chased happiness as a goal, the first small slice of that goal seemed like the payoff. The work that followed always was less than the initial effort.
The hubris of arrogance leaves a long wake of shattered memories.
So, guess what usually happens. The successive results never measure up to the first hit of happy-dope and, for me, that equates failure. I got this, I would say. Look at me now, I will say.
Instead of taking the win where and when it comes, we force a loss. A defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. I fixed it until I broke it. I rejected simplicity and embraced complexity. The hubris of arrogance leaves a long wake of shattered memories.
Bad habits are birthed as lazy patterns and grow into self-loathing adolescence. Self-loathing matures into false pride. Bitterness becomes an old man. Death brings peace too late. Easy to reject others while rejecting oneself.
So look for the corner. Take the off-ramp. Make the turn. If it needs to be a U-Turn, so be it. Slow down and read the warning signs. When you see a beautiful view, stop and look.
I’m not looking for happiness. I’m not finding sadness. I’m not expecting resolution or closure.
I’m searching for myself. No matter what I find, I hit the goal. The goal is self-awareness. Not a happy ending. I’m starting to call that success.
The cost of finding myself is steep. Losing important things is the price I paid. The payoff is unknown. The final outcome is yet to be lived. I’m gonna start living now.
As long as you can draw a breath, it is never too late.
Transcript for President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation from October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and even soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
By the President: William H. Seward. Secretary of State.
John Anderson is a cowboy. His music has been a soundtrack in my life. His lyrics tell stories of Americans. The neglected woman. The overlooked child. The forgotten man.
Grab your favorite beverage and put your earbuds in. Find a spot next to the fireplace or the sunny window. Push play and lose yourself in the stories.
Or, if you are like me, find yourself in the words.