Every day in our life's journey holds its own special treasures, if we have eyes to see...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On Behalf of a Grateful Nation

The closing strains of the national anthem drown in the roar of the U.S. Air Force jet as it buzzes low over the line of veterans in their vintage cars. World War II. The Korean War. Vietnam. The Gulf War. POWs. Iraq, Afghanistan, and more. They're all represented here on the street of small town Shasta Lake where babies, teens, parents, and grandparents line the streets under the cool northern California sun. No one cringes at the thunder of the fly by. No one fears. And that in itself is tribute to the veterans we honor. They've won and preserved our safety. They defend us. They are the "good guys."

“What a great country we live in,” says a random man who strolls out to a convertible to shake the hand of CA senator Ted Gaines, “when a military jet flies by to commemorate a parade," and the Senator, just one of us, agrees and calls attention to the blue sky and the beautiful day. There's honor in the air.

Yes, it's tangible, the honor for these veterans and the ones they represent who have served and are serving in our great nation's military. With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, I watch the cars pass, waving my flag and feeling so thankful. One old vehicle passes carrying a veteran of 35 missions on a B24 in World War II. He rides quiet and silver haired, looking like someone's grandpa dressed in military uniform: but there was a day--many days, when he was a young man in the belly or the pilot seat of a bomber, not sure he would make it back to friendly soil. Doing something he wished he didn't have to do, but proud on the behalf of a nation that depended on him and all those like him to hold onto freedom with their bare hands.

I see another WWII veteran--James Broack, 102 years old, with as brave a heart as ever beat, even though he rides quietly in the parade. Yes, the bravery is palpable today. I'm feeling the weight of it. Heritage and history strung out in front of me, and the weight of generations represented here. That's another thing that strikes me. Kids and grand kids ride police launches, Swiss ammo carts and firetrucks; middle school to high school marching bands blazoning out She's a Grand old Flag and Salute to the Armed Forces. Two-year-old baton twirlers; a tiny BMX rider with a pink helmet and maybe three years to her credit join soldiers, sailors, and special forces. These are the ones those military personnel held in their hearts in the jungles and deserts of their campaigns. And these are their reward.

My dad, a machinist's mate on a destroyer in the Korean War could have been in this parade, and how he would have enjoyed the quiet company of his fellow sailors. I want to run out and hug the valiant men and women I see passing before me, and I hope they know that all across the country in thousands of parades small and great, grateful people gather to say thank you and to give honor. 

Thank you veterans old and young, active or retired. It’s because of you and your fellow soldiers we sit safely by the sidelines in a little California town. May we who now run carry the baton in a worthy way, worthy of those who did and still do their best on our behalf, and remind those children twirling batons or playing the drums what it costs to be this safe and this free.

Happy Veteran's Day. And on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Grit isn't just Something you put in the Bottom of your Birdcage

I'm pondering perseverance right now. This is partly because I need some, and partly because as I take a closer look at it, this particular commodity has all the earmarks of the legendary "silver bullet"--the one element that can move us toward success, toward our dreams, toward deeper connections in relationship. That's the amazing good news. The not so amazing news is that perseverance is not easy.
Not usually pain-free. And very rarely fast.

What good is a slow silver bullet, for heaven's sake?! Not much, if you want what you want and you want it now. (That would be me a lot of times). But it strikes me that hoping for that magic "suddenly" is not good policy for a couple of reasons. For one, if you don't know how you got somewhere, you won't know how to sustain that position. Think about it: if you "fall" in love, will you know how to stay in love year 5? 15? 25?

For another, human nature seems to assign less value to what we have not worked for. Whether it's a college education or a hamburger, if you have it handed to you on the proverbial silver platter, you may leave it half uneaten because you're unaware that someone, somewhere spent part of their life to put it in your hand.

And that leads me to this thought: in reality, there are very few "suddenlies." Whether it's parenting, personal achievement, or pretty much any other realm, a "suddenly" is but the culmination of a whole lot of time and effort and not giving up. You keep doing that long enough and "suddenly" the cup is full. The degree is in your hand. The relationship is solid and healthy.

Grit isn't just something you put in the bottom of your birdcage. It's that never give up stick-to-it-iveness that we reach for when all we really want to do is call it a day. Yup, I'm thinking that perseverance is worth the price, the closest thing to a silver bullet out there, and ammunition well worth carrying...