We are all blessed in ways we do not see, have opportunities we do not realize, and sometimes stand at a cosmic intersection, a divine and mysterious place, not realizing we are here, that the next choice is ours – to try something new, do something painful, take or complete a mission. Sometimes it takes a nudge. Living in America is a world filled…with invisible blessings.
As a young person, I did not like to read. Hard to believe, but true. This was even more surprising since my mother was a teacher. She would have me read half an hour a day, misery. One day, I read a story in Reader’s Digest, could not put it down, international intrigue. That was it, end of reluctance.
In high school, my writing was sufficient, adequate, nothing special. I tried to write creatively but kept bumping into the famous block that sits at the intersection of could, would, and did.
I finally asked an English teacher how to get into the flow. She said, stop thinking about it, just do it. In other words, do not compare yourself with famous writers, forget them, ignore them, just let your thoughts come out on paper, that is enough.
In time, having learned to read and write, I applied to college, got it. I applied to graduate school, got it. From there, travelled to Soviet-dominated Poland, saw how little they had, got it. Later I applied for a fellowship in India, chance to work with Untouchables in Andhra Pradesh, got it. Working with them, I offered nudges like my mother and teacher, and they got it.
Back in the United States, I marveled at what we have, freedoms exceeding every family in Eastern Europe, opportunities beyond every family in rural India, and everywhere a chance to learn, live and prosper, speak, pray, give, defend what is right, defy what is wrong.
Here, as time passed – and continues – I am repeatedly reminded how fortunate we are, we Americans – how blessings we do not see, opportunities we do not realize, invisible intersections before us are often overlooked, not understood, missed because they seem hard or elusive.
What we do not realize, often do not get until looking back on a road taken, is that we have more options than any people in history – more chances to succeed, experiment and fail, get up and go on, assess what was done wrong and do it right, take good from bad – more than anyone had.
Only on the odd day do we realize what we have – and then, perhaps only dimly. I am the same, even now. But on days when we think the world has gone mad, when we get up slowly, sore, and achy, uninspired and disconsolate, vaguely disgruntled over the world, culture, economy, political leaders, or just the weather – and how dreary things look, take time. Stop.
Stop and remember three big things.
First, you live – even with all these energy-sapping, day-slowing, knee-bruising things to deal with – in the greatest nation in the entire world, in the entire run of human history. As a student of history who did learn to read, and someone who managed to visit 50 countries – America is the true beacon. We are blessed beyond measure – because we live in this special place.
Second, remember that – for all the disruptions, frustrations, and aggravations, short tempers, hot heads, improvidence, intolerance, and people who disagree with you – someone, somewhere, along your long run paused to give a nudge. Just as I got mine, you benefited from kindness.
Third, and finally, think about the fact that you are no more alone than anyone else, no more paralyzed than you let yourself to be. You – and they – stand at cosmic crossroads even now, choices before you if you wish to accept, things tough to do, painful but productive, perhaps incalculably valuable to you and others, if you will give them a nudge, perhaps take one.
As a kid who resisted reading, who wondered if he would ever figure out how to write, who grew up in rural Maine, no more aware of the world than a book allowed, the best thing that ever happened to me was a few people pointing out the obvious.
And what was the obvious? Well, now that my fingers record my thoughts, just this. We are all blessed in ways we do not see, every day. We have opportunities we do not realize, stand at cosmic intersections, divine and invisible, often not realizing we are here. But we are here.
The choice – every day – is ours. We can try something new and hard, make something fresh happen, take the nudge, pass one along. What a place, America – filled with invisible blessings.