I’m usually not the kind of person who whines or complains.
For those who are already suspicious, let me just state categorically that this article will not be the exception that proves the rule.
My aim in writing this piece is not to complain or to find fault with anything or anyone.
Anyone other than myself that is.
I have recently discovered that although I am no whiner, I am also not as grateful as I probably should be.
This point has been driven home with no small amount of force over the course of the last few weeks.
When I came on board with this newspaper at the end of December, I was introduced to “Maddie O” and her family, and I saw the bravery that she and her parents displayed in the face of great adversity.
I actually remember saying to myself at the time that I would never again take anything for granted and it wasn’t just some idle promise I made to myself because I was caught up in the emotion of the moment.
Despite my not-so-successful recent attempts to get back in shape, I’m a fairly healthy individual and have no trouble at all doing pretty much anything I want to do.
Thus, if Maddie and her family can be happy, friendly, kind and gracious in the midst of her illness, there is no excuse for me not to do the same.
That pretty much settled things in my mind and after I had written my first story on Maddie and her situation I returned home determined to walk above all things ugly, petty and small.
Sadly, this determination lasted only long enough for me to pull up to my house, walk in the front door and discover that sewer water had backed up into my basement.
I preceded to throw a very shameful fit complete with the mumbling of various curses under my breath and the occasional kicking of a chair thrown in for good measure.
It didn’t occur to me until later that I had done the complete opposite of what I had promised myself.
Disappointed but still not defeated, I resolved to try even harder to appreciate what I had and to not overlook my blessings.
My new positive attitude seemed to pay off.
The sewer problems were taken care of within a matter of days and they turned out to not be nearly as serious as I first thought.
A week or so later, I received a solicitation in the mail from the USO detailing the plight of some of our returning soldiers who must now adjust to life with missing limbs and traumatic brain injuries.
I happen to have been lifting weights in my home gym when the mail came that day and had indulged just moments before in a little pity party, during which I had bemoaned the fact that I used to be so much stronger.
I looked at the two good arms still attached to my body and then to the picture of a soldier who was missing a leg, then I finished my brief workout in silence and chastised myself for such a disgusting lack of perspective.
Following that eye-opening experience, I actually did a little bit better for a while.
I stopped getting upset over little things and tried not to worry about temporary problems that don’t amount to much for all those struggling with worse.
That new perspective was reinforced during the Clopton Invitational Tournament last week when I watched one of the Silex Lady Owls hit the floor and not get back up.
The extent of that player’s injuries are still unknown to me, but they were serious enough she could not return to the game.
In fact, as I stood up on my two strong and healthy legs and prepared to walk out of the gym under my own power, she was being helped off the bottom row of bleachers and practically carried out to a waiting car.
The look on that girl’s face is one I will never forget.
At that moment she would have given just about anything to do the one thing I was taking for granted-walking!
That experience haunted me all the way home.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite long enough.
As I made my way from my car to the front door of my house that night, I failed to look where I was going and sank ankle deep in the mud.
I finally extricated myself and made it back to the sidewalk, only to slip and stumble all the way to my front door due to my now very slippery shoes.
The tantrum I threw on my front porch would have put any preschooler to shame.
In fact, at one point during my little tirade I actually heard myself say “Why do these things always happen to me?”
That’s pretty pathetic coming from a guy who isn’t ill, has both of his arms and legs and can still walk anywhere he wants to, without having to ask for help or limp around on crutches.
As disgusted as I am with myself, I don’t really feel that I’m much different than anyone else.
Most of us have short memories when it comes to giving thanks and we meditate on the bad things far more than we do the good.
While I can in no way correct this condition for our society as a whole, I can make a conscious effort to improve as an individual.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
In the meantime, I look forward to the day when I no longer have to lose a finger in order to stop focusing on a hangnail.