And when I do that from the place that I am in my life right now, I see almost exclusively good things. The best gauge of all of it I guess, would be to rank my level of happiness. In my day to day life am I happy? If so, how happy?
To which I would have to answer, extremely happy. (Well at least lower case extremely. Ha!)
This is for a number of reasons.
- I have been blessed for coming up on 27 years with a wife and friend who loves me despite my me-ness and puts up with all that I am not. She knows what I value and shares many of those same things. She is my rock and I laugh as hard with her as I did the day we first met.
- Watching my kids go to college and prepare to go to college makes me incredibly happy. They are/will be experiencing what I remember as some the best days of their life. I want to relive those days vicariously through them. College was a time of awakening, learning and stretching.
- I have a family back home in Minnesota and another in New York that support and love me. My mom is still a source of great inspiration and I'm lucky to have her around. My Minnesota family has been a great safety net for Sarah as she attends the U of M and I'm grateful for that. At the same time, my New York family has been a great support system for my Father and Mother in-law as they deal with health issues. Blessings 750 miles away.
- I still love my work and this year have become more involved on the board of a statewide organization that has reconnected me to the GIS community and brought a ton of new friends into my work life.
- I have three published books (albeit two of them smaller poetry collections) and have another memoir well along toward publication (as well as a poetry chapbook that I am keeping my fingers crossed with.)
- Along with the above point comes the writing community that I am a part of. I've met so many cool, creative, fun writers these past seven years that it's hard to put into words. They are the source of my Monday sanity as we work through each others' words and put them right.
- I've got a good-not-great house in a great neighborhood that most days I don't hate. Could be worse, but I suffer house envy quite frequently.
- My church community CollectiveMKE is the best. It's as unconventional as church can get I think, and I learn more from it every week than I did within the walls of conventional church.
I point out these positive things not to gloat or beat my chest, but rather to remind myself how lucky I am. It was all possible in part by the leg-up that Mom gave me in putting things like education and hard work as priorities for all of us kids.
At the same time, I try and take notice because it's not all rosy all the time in my head. Most of the time I wonder when the other shoe is going to drop. Will it be a health issue? A death in the family?
Furthermore, each of these good things comes with it's own bag of worries. Mountainous college debt, fear of literary failure, health concerns every time I get a new click or pop, and worry that my kids will continue on a good and successful path. And there are concerns about impending changes at my workplace in the coming year, the upkeep and maintenance of two aging vehicles and a house that's 95 years old this year. Add to this aging parents, and the increasing list of things that I'm adding to my "wanna do but probably never will get to before I die," and, well, like I said, it's not all rosy all the time.
But that's life.
I realize these are all first-world white guy problems, but I guess my point is, we can all get lost and buried in the last paragraph crap. Dwelling in that area knows no race, gender or age. And it's not to say that the last paragraph isn't deserving of some attention. It's all legitimate worrisome stuff - if you're into that.
But if you want to live better, live in the bullet points, not the last paragraph. Focus on the richness of who and what you have and not what you don't or what you fear. That stuff won't go away, or at best will just change its face.
Because life is too short to wallow in the crappy paragraph.