Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another 'Mike' Year Is Over

Well, as the title of this post suggests, I measure my years a bit differently than others. On the day before Thanksgiving Day it's been my habit of long standing to take a sort of personal inventory of the year just gone by. I do this at this time for several reasons, not the least of which is that there's no 'resolutions' involved. This is good for people like me who seldom meet the lofty goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the new year. Also, since this is officially 'Thanksgiving' time in the USA, what better time is there to take personal stock of our lives? In that frame of mind, here are my observations of things that I remember from the past twelve months, in no set lists or order, just my normal rambling thoughts consigned to this post.
I seem to remember the year starting off well, which means there were no looming disasters facing me. The time passed with a few hiccups and too many high points to count. Some of the hiccups were temporarily being bereft of most of my vision in the spring. This caused a great slow-down in my posting and an end to my book reading. Thankfully, this was cured in the most part via a series of procedures performed by the eye and general surgeons at the local Veteran's Administration Hospital. Even though I'm old, my disabilities and injuries are related to either my military or government service, which allows me to avail myself of the VA's services. There were a few other medical snags, some attended to by my personal doctor and the local hospital staff, and some addressed by the VA staff. My personal doctor, who amazingly makes house calls if necessary, keeps on top of our health issues with extreme competence. I nicknamed her the 'Little Italian Lady Doctor' and she fits that description to a 'T'. At any rate, I'd have to rate health issues in the plus column for the year, as I think I'm in better shape overall than at this time last year. So health is a blessing.
The year saw the loss of a great many close friends, many in one short period. Although there were a few exceptions caused by accidents and sudden illnesses, most lived long and productive lives and passed on peacefully in their homes with their loved ones. It also saw the birth of a number of babies to family and friends. The little girl who lives in my first floor apartment has had a remarkable degree of progress since her birth as a 'preemie' with multiple serious health issues. Today she's a normal, healthy, and extremely active two-year-old. A few family members and friends survived major medical problems with minimal lasting effects. Through the magic of the Internet I was introduced to new friends from around the globe, all of whom have added to my enjoyment of life. So overall not a bad year at all as far as those I care about are concerned.
The subject of personal wealth is always an issue in folks' lives, and in this respect, I imagine our lives are little different than the lives of most people. I'd have to say financially we have a good deal less than at this time last year. This is mostly a good thing though, as the reason for most of the missing wealth is giving to family, friends, and worthy causes. My take on money and material goods is that we appreciate and use what we have, allow ourselves a bit of luxury, and any beyond that is wasted unless it's used to do good works and better the lives of others and the world in general. My wife feels the same, and we both attribute it to the way we were raised, having what we needed and sharing any bounty with others less fortunate. As for the true wealth we enjoy, the company of friends and family, the respect of our neighbors, the ability to live in the midst of one of Nature's most beautiful spots on earth, and the overall enjoyment of life, I'd say it's been a truly wonderful year.
As I look ahead I foresee the coming twelve months as being much the same. You could say we're in a rut I guess, but what a wondrous road that rut is guiding us along. Every time I feel a bit melancholy I just have to look around, listen to the life around me, smell the perfume of Nature that changes with the seasons, and ask myself that well-worn question, 'can it get any better than this?' It may be possible, but when I see the blessing column full to overflowing and the 'less good things' column near empty, I don't see how.
So, as the photos above of the area in which we're blessed to reside show, we've got temperatures in the 24F\-4C range and the first snow that's stayed on the ground. That means that one of my four favorite seasons is almost upon us with its dazzling white landscapes, ice decorated trees, the tracks of the local critters in the snow, and a host of other nice things to add enjoyment to our already blessed lives. So I'm off to enjoy the early sunset over the snowy hill opposite us and breathe in the crisp autumn air. Until next time, take care.