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December 31, 2008

New Year’s Blessings

Filed under: General,Opinion,Philosophy — Steve Hamlin @ 8:27 pm

New Year’s is a time for lists – best of, worst of, people we’ve lost, etc. Here’s mine.

For me, especially as I get older, New Year’s is a depressing time. It comes in winter with its short, cold days and its long, colder nights, and it reminds me that another year in my undefined, but definitely finite number of years has been ticked off. Because of that, or maybe in spite of it, New Year’s is a good time for me to take stock of all the blessings in my life.

This year, to my surprise, I find I’m blessed to not have a lot of money in a retirement fund. This has been a year when my hand-to-mouth way of life has turned out to be a good thing. While so many are bemoaning their losses in the stock market, I can feel good about having shared rich experiences with those I love, instead of wishing I had put more into a mutual fund account.

I’m also fortunate to not have a real job. My liquid employment status (meaning it takes the shape of whatever container it happens to be in, rather than the financial definition) has given me the flexibility to accommodate the aforementioned rich experiences without having to worry about getting fired, since I have no job to get fired from. I’m a free agent selling my various skills to whoever needs them.

I’m blessed with good health. I have friends and family who are younger than I am who suffer from debilitating illnesses from which I’ve been spared. I’m able to do all the things that I love to do, many of which (long-distance cycling, for example) are considered activities of the young.

As a result of my upbringing, I’m blessed with a strong moral foundation. My parents, grandparents, teachers and church family instilled in me a sense of responsibility and accountability that seems to be a much rarer commodity today than it once was. I say this with humility – I don’t take credit for it, but I do recognize it. It’s because of the foundation that others built for me that I’ve been able to be successful at supporting my family as a self-employed entrepreneur.

I’m fortunate to have wide-ranging skills and interests. My diversity has seen me through difficult economic times in the past and I expect it will help me weather the current recession too. Like my moral foundation, I take little credit for this, but I’m incredibly thankful for it now as I have been in the past.

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve been blessed with great friends and a large, loving family. My friends enrich my life immeasurably. Carl, with whom I play music and ride bicycles, Jeff, who is my confidante and who confides in me, my other friend Jeff, with whom I’ve shared so many experiences, John, whose generosity has made so much possible, Tim, with whom I grew up and who remains a steadfast friend today. There are so many more – too many to list here. Thank you all. I pray that I have been as good a friend to each of you as you all have been to me.

My mother and father, brothers and sisters have all added colorful threads to the tapestry of my life. We’ve fought at times, nursed grudges, shared difficulties and triumphs. We’ve each followed our own path, raised our own families, but through it all, the love of family has bound us together.

My two step-children have both challenged me and bestowed great gifts on me. Our relationships have been complicated at times, but they have both embraced me as much more than just their mother’s husband.

Then there is their mother, my wife, partner and companion. We’ve shared a life together for nearly thirty years. Linda confounds me and warms my heart, often at the same time. She’s predictably tardy and a prodigious pack-rat, but she’s also honest to a fault, vivacious, generous, well-intentioned, loving and forgiving. We’ve shared many experiences together and I look forward to many more.

All in all, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. I hope you do too. Happy New Year.

All text and images © Steve Hamlin
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