Do Animals have Souls?
November 26, 2012
I can't answer the question, "Do Animals have souls." But I hope when Jaeger is gone (possibly as soon as Tuesday), he will reap some kind of reward for a life well lived.
If this sounds familiar, it is because, in the great tradition of Herb Caen and Jon Carroll, I am recycling my thirteen previous Thanksgiving messages. I missed two years; last year I was so busy printing a blog entry celebrating Thanksgiving in Mali with Marlow that I forgot my own message.
It is funny what a difference two years make. In 2010, we were all in Oregon with my dad. Now that both my parents are gone, we probably won't ever spend another Thanksgiving in Oregon. This year the dinner will be in Orinda; my wife and daughters, and my nephew. A cozy group of five around the glass table in the dining nook. Vicki has to work the week of Thanksgiving, but this year will not be doing a bunch of volunteering for Amma's visit, because this year Amma isn't coming to San Ramon. My older daughter starts a new job on Nov. 19. But for the sixth time, I have the whole week off. I pay for it at the end of the school year, which is now the second week of June instead of the first.
I know I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a job that still gets better every year, I have my health, such as it is, and I have my family. I can't imagine why I would bother getting out of bed each morning if not for my wife and my two girls.
Regular readers know that. after 27 years as a journalist, I earned my teaching credential and now teach 8th grade US History at a middle school. It is still true that I have not been this excited and challenged since 1974, when I started working as a professional journalist. This is my tenth year teaching. Each year gets easier, and I get better, but it never gets easy. (as Kent Peterman puts it).
Still, my most important role is as husband to Vicki and father to my daughters, the older one going to work for the Small Business Administration, the younger working on a degree at Mills College.
I think we all lose perspective sometimes, forget what's really important. We get wrapped up in our jobs and spend too much time working on them, both at home and in the office.
The years I spent full-time with my girls (I worked from home) are priceless. The time I spend with them now is priceless as well. Not everyone can work in a home office--and I don't anymore.
But no matter where you work, the next time you have to make the tough call between the meeting and the soccer game, go to the soccer game. You'll never regret it. I am thankful for my family. Be thankful for yours.
Also give thanks for your friends and your good fortune. Spread that good fortune around in any way you can. I have much to be thankful for this holiday season, as I have had every year of my life.
I am thankful that I have a loving brother. I am thankful for my loving and understanding wife, and for the two most wonderful daughters I could have imagined, both of them turning into vibrant, intelligent young women before my very eyes.
I am thankful for every sunrise and sunset I get to see, every moment I get to be in, every flower I try so desperately to stop and smell. I am thankful that I can move closer every day to living a life in balance. Every morning, I am grateful to be alive. Not a bad way to start the day. For reasons I don't want to detail, I am extremely grateful just to be alive.
I am thankful for 240 pounds; down 60 from my peak. I am thankful for the fact that I will still be near that weight next year at Thanksgiving.
Every week at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Orinda, the priest concludes the service with this homily. The provenance seems uncertain; the Internet lists several attributions. All I know is, it touches me every time I hear it and is sound advice for life:
"Remember that life is short and we have too little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So be quick to be kind, make haste to love, and may the blessing of God be with you now and always."It has been with me. I hope it is with you. In the meantime, I am thankful, finally, for each and every one of you reading this column. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
(A reprint of my annual anniversary item, with small adjustments).
As of last Oct. 16, it's been 14 years since I started this incarnation of P.S. A Column on Things. (I switched to Google Calendar, which ate the annual reminder to me to rerun this item, so I'm a little late this year)
When I started this column, "W" was still the second-rate governor of Texas, Barrack Obama was a state legislator in Illinois, Mitt Romney was rich and white and the president of the United States was white. How far we have come since then. Except Mitt Romney, who is still rich and white.
I was still working for CMP, and had a weekly podcast, back before pods (which definitely cut into our audience). My heart beat by itself and I weighed 270 pounds. In short, things were different. I believe I am one of the longest continuous bloggers on the Internet.
In 1998, during the Clinton impeachment, I either had to start a column or check into a mental institution. PSACOT gave me a forum in which to express, to an audience (no matter how small) my feelings about that political circus. [As a U.S. history teacher, I am forced to note that Andrew Johnson's impeachment was a rabid partisan witch hunt, as was Clinton's. Only Nixon's was bipartisan--and only Nixon resigned.]
The column/blog has since evolved into a combination of diary for my family and me and bulletin board for my clever friends--in short, a personal column. Like, but not as good as, former San Francisco Chronicle columnist Adair Lara or ongoing columnist Jon Carroll. Or, to take a national example, former New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen, considered the mother of the personal column concept (even though Stanton Delaplane and Charles McCabe of the San Francisco Chronicle actually beat her to it--but of course, if it hasn't happened in New York, it hasn't happened).
PSACOT is also a revival of sorts. Among my readers, Daniel Dern and Peter Peckarsky would remember the original P.S. A Column On Things, which ran in ERGO, MIT's objectivist newspaper from September 1970 to March 1971, and The Tech, MIT's semi-official student newspaper, from March 1971 to May 1971. Those were among my happiest days as a journalist. If I had truly understood the fulfillment a personal column gave me, perhaps I would have fought harder to keep it when Bob Fourer killed it (along with my restaurant reviews), or I would have revived it when I became editor-in-chief two years later, or tried to practice the craft as an adult (and become, perhaps, the father of the personal column).
In any case, I expect to still be doing this next October; I'll meet you here.