Sunday, November 29, 2015

Light in the Tunnel

My sister and I were leaving the Fairway in Red Hook with our Thanksgiving turkey Wednesday night when we overhead one of the employees explaining the facts of life to a co-worker.

“Everybody’s got problems, baby girl,” she declared.

I was barely listening as I had all sorts of holiday-related worries preying on my mind.

But those words are coming back to me now that the long weekend is almost over, the turkey carcass has been reduced to bare bones, and my stomach is relentlessly pushing against my belt.

This is a time of the year when we’re supposed to be grateful for all we have, and I really am so thankful for all the great people in my life.

And yet I’m thinking of this slip-up I experienced just a few days before Thanksgiving.

I was riding the subway and reading a book to pass the time while the R train crawled its way through the rush hour congestion. Or at least I was trying to read, but the lights kept switching off every time I focused on the page.

I looked down the length of the car and saw that all the other lights were working perfectly. The only defective lights were the ones over my head.

I started getting annoyed; my dark self complaining, yeah, of course, the lights would go out on my part of the train. I had half-convinced myself that the fates were deliberately futzing around with the lights just to disrupt my reading.

Insane, of course, but that’s what happens when fatigue sets in and I let my mind off the leash.

It’s All Gravy

The man directly across me wasn’t complaining about the lights. He was sitting on the train with no shoes—completely barefoot—with the temperature falling, winter just around the corner, and the holiday season underway.

He clutched a heavy walking stick and wore a set of headphones, though I didn’t see any I-Pod on his hip to provide the music. Maybe the tunes were playing in his head.

Periodically he’d pound his walking stick on the floor and glare at the other passengers as if he were about to make some great pronouncement. But he never said a word.

So here was a man with no shoes on his feet, and God only knows if he had a place to live, or anyone to share Thanksgiving with—just a few feet away from me, but I chose to feel sorry for myself and get all twisted about some blinking lights.

It’s the subway, for God’s sake, it’s a minor miracle the lights work at all.

Such a strange holiday, where we’re supposed to give thanks for all we have by eating ourselves into a stupor.

If we really wanted to show our gratitude, perhaps we should go hungry for a day, get together with our loved ones and skip the huge meal in honor of those who have no food, no homes and no shoes to wear in the winter.

Your gratitude for things increases dramatically when they're taken away from you—even for a little while.

Yes, baby girl, everybody’s got problems. But for many of us our biggest problem is choosing to stay in the dark, refusing to see how lucky we are and why we should give thanks every single day of the year.

6 comments:

Bijoux said...

Amen! Just being sick for a few days and then feeling back to normal is such a blessing. I've taken to thanking God for my pillow and warm blanket every night.

Rob K said...

"-thanking God for my pillow and warm blanket every night."

Oh, that's beautiful, Bijoux! And so true!

Ron said...

OUTSTANDING post, Rob!

*applause...applause*

You are sooooooooooooooo right about this....

"Your gratitude for things increases dramatically when they're taken away from you—even for a little while."

In fact, I thought deeply about that while lying in my hospital bed for two weeks; reflecting on how much I took my good health for granted.

I honestly think that Thanksgiving Day should be everyday.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, buddy. It was a great reminder to us ALL!

Have a fabulous week!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron, Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, I figured you would be in a unique position to be thankful after that horrible ordeal you went through. An experience like that is a real eye-opener and I'm sure glad you're still around to tell the tale.

Take care, Buddy!

A Cuban In London said...

You are so right. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family belatedly.

Greetings from London.

Rob K said...

Hey, thanks, brother! My best to you and yours!