Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Break

I have many thanks to give this Thanksgiving: a fulfilling job, a supportive family, a brilliant cadre of friends.  Holidays are wonderful because they give us a pause to savor what has happened and to dream about what is to come.  Four months ago, I did not think that my father would be alive to share these days with us.  As we sit in the living room, he is happily munching on popcorn out of a metal bowl painted with leaves.  How wonderful it is to live!

Yesterday, my father and I talked over breakfast about my future.  It was different than the conversations we had in the past.  He no longer harps about my inability to engage with reality; I no longer respond to his well-meaning criticism with childish hostility.  It took many years of bickering, of misread intentions and badly expressed love, to arrive at our current peace.  I often regret my past self's inability and unwillingness to listen, but these current days are worth every old moment spent in anger.

Between bites of French fries (my mother was in St. Louis visiting Grandma and so he had free reign to eat as he pleased), my father emphasized the need for credentials.  You have things to say, he told me, so you need a platform to say them.  His insight is staggering; even though we live hundreds of miles apart, he knew the foremost thought in my mind.  He accepted that I don't have an answer to this question.  If I did, well, then I'd be doing it.  Think about it, he said.  Keep thinking, keep doing, and eventually the answer will come.

Although that sentiment may seem hackneyed, it is true.  Last night, I met my high school friends for dinner.  It similar to the conversation between the Fox and the Badger: "They reminisced as old friends do about old times that, in hindsight, always seem better than they actually were."  It was heartening to see us all in good spirits.  We were bright, hard-working kids who dreamed of bigger things.  Now, we're bright, hard-working adults who still dream of bigger things.  We have all had setbacks and heartbreaks but are making good on the promise we showed as children.  I am proud of us in a way I could not have understood until recently.

So, this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for many things.  I am thankful for my wonderful, supporting family that believed in me even when I did nothing to earn that trust.  I am thankful for my inspirational friends who have done and are doing and will do spectacular things to make the world better.  I am thankful for so much that this post could go on forever.  Since this Thanksgiving break only lasts a few days more, I will instead set aside my computer and enjoy them in good humor and good company.

May all your Thanksgivings be as joyous!