I’ve Been Thinking: Reasons to be Thankful

EDITOR’S NOTE: We hadn’t heard from Jim in awhile, so a quick “what’s up?” And he replied that it’s a struggle right now, and shares how he needs to be reminded of all we have to be thankful for. Let the yard work go, Jim. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and thanks for sharing.

By Jim Heffernan
I’ve been worried lately about how hard this summer seems to be for me.

Winston Churchill talked about his “black dog” of depression and I think I know what he means. Depression truly is a beast that can stalk us and rob us of energy and joy.

We found this little corner of Tillamook 43 years ago and thought it was a paradise. Now that we’re considerably older, we’re afraid we should have settled for a smaller corner of Tillamook. Keeping up with the upkeep saps our energy and saps our spirit. Depression always seems close by.

I found a list of 20 reasons to be thankful. It’s a couple of years old, but it’s still a good list and it helps me discourage the “black dog”.

1. I am thankful to be alive and healthy.

2. I am thankful for a loving family that is not riven by conflict.

3. I am very thankful for my partner who keeps me sane, listens to me rant, and is always there to share the burdens and make me laugh.

4. I am thankful that my maternal and paternal grandparents took a chance on America and immigrated here, and for all the immigrants that have come before and will continue to come to America because they believe it will be worth it.

5. I am thankful for my fellow Americans standing up to a wannabe dictator and taking back our democracy — all 80 million of us. It took ALL of us.

6. I am thankful for election officials, poll workers, poll observers, canvassers and defenders of democracy, and all politicians willing to serve.

7. I am thankful for friends who shortly after Trump’s election helped educate me about the weaknesses of our democracy and how to respond effectively, with analysis, discipline, empathy, and focus.

8. I am thankful for activists and non-profit leaders who fight for our rights and liberties every day, under intense pressure, because they believe deeply in America’s promise and the need to protect the vulnerable.

9. I am thankful for Swing Left, Vote Forward, Braver Angels and People’s Action who over the last few years channeled my angst about Trump and the 2016 and 2020 elections into productive hours working for a better future.

10. I am thankful to be part of a community of thinkers, doers and donors who defend our democracy and are willing to work across ideologies to see our common humanity and build our social and civic bonds.

11. I am thankful to have meaningful activity that gives me purpose.

12. I am thankful for friends who ask me how I am doing and continue to inspire and support me.

13. I am thankful for journalists who keep me abreast of what’s happening and call out the real dangers that threaten us.

14. I am thankful for the technology that kept me connected during the pandemic.

15. I am thankful for scientists who worked at breakneck speed to protect us against the pandemic.

16. I am thankful for the essential workers who kept our healthcare system functioning and our grocery stores stocked, and who maintain our food supply.

17. I am thankful for postal workers and those who transport goods and people.

18. I am thankful for four seasons that enliven and mark the passage of time when life has become monotonic and flat.

19. I am thankful for land preserved for hiking and enjoyment and for the donors and stewards of those properties.

20. I am thankful for artists who create beauty in the world and for the institutions that make their works available to provide solace and inspiration.