Thanksgiving came not a day too soon this time around. It has been a grim, unforgiving sort of year. Receipts in my firm are low. I’ve laid people off. One good man now stands to lose his home; another can’t find work and suffered a blow to his health. Clients call, all in need; few have resources. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends and am weary.
So when Thanksgiving rolled around, my first response was surprise: Already? Didn’t we just do this? The past year is an anxious blur.
But I have my health, and so does my wife. My oldest son married this past summer and shows every indication of settling into a mature and sustaining love. Our youngest son is in medical school, and has finished the first two years. He now turns to four or five years of laboratory research and another advanced degree before returning to complete his medical degree. Our middle child, Sarah, is our wild child, the one most like me; she’s living in New Zealand, with plans to live in Australia and then Bali. She’s a dreamer like me, slow to find her feet, but determined not to rest until she does.
Three great kids, a wife who loves me, and a law practice that is weathering the storm. I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Taking the time simply to be grateful for being alive and well is necessary soul food.
Did I say soul? Oh, my. A religious streak I had not noticed. What next? A belief in the afterlife?
These may be trying times, but my feet are still planted firmly on this Earth.
It occurred to me this year, finally, that I am getting old. Of course, we all are, as a matter of definition. The lifecycle is capable of compression into the simplest terms: we are born; we live; we die. But it is the view along the way that sustains and intrigues.
This year spawned new hope in me, a cynic through and through. I watched the Occupy movement spread from city to city and for the first time in a long time felt that new wine was forcing its way into old skins. I look to the year to come with hope for more than change. I say bring on some chaos. There is is life in the unknown.
One of my favorite newspaper columnists is a man named Charles Blow. He writes for The New York Times. Each Saturday he offers a graphic take on the world, compressing data and trends in illustrative form by way of graphs, charts and tables. By the antiquated terms of classifying political views he is what would be called a progressive, I suppose. He is to the left of what folks used to call the center.
Just before Thanksgiving he was on Twitter heaping scorn on anarchists and expressing disdain for those who do not vote. He believes in the comfortable efficacy of the electoral process as only a person with a vested stake in the world as it is -- a New York Times columnist -- can. Choose from column A or column B, he proclaims. It is the American way. He looks naive to me.
I hope for more in the year to come. I am with the anarchists as a new year approaches. From where I sit, it looks as though there laws of supply and demand capture an increasingly smaller portion of the world. Yes, markets can efficiently distribute resources, but only among those with a place in the market. Increasing numbers of folks have dropped out of the economy, and are off the grid. These are the new pilgrims.
As the new year begins, I am reading Emma Goldman, Lysander Spooner and Noam Chomsky. The old order fails, and there is no point pretending any longer. Bring on chaos. Bring on hope. Give thanks for the lives we have and for the terrifying power to provoke change, even violent change.
I am thankful, I say, and expectant. Are you?
Reprinted courtesy of the Connecticut Law Tribune.