Being American means ‘I can’

Written by Jeff Petersen, The Observer June 28, 2013 10:26 am

The Fourth of July is rapidly approaching. Buy fireworks stock. Yes, the Great Recession, or as I like to call it the Fair to Middlin’ Recession, has slapped us around like a bear going after a coon dog.

Still, despite pay cuts, pay freezes and banks paying .0000000001 percent interest on savings accounts, despite gas prices approaching $4 a gallon, despite that a postcard stamp now costs more than first-class mail did in 1999, most of us have our heads above water. Sure, the waves are high. Sure, we get a gulp of water with each breath. But we are surviving, maybe even thriving.

My favorite basketball coach, the late John Wooden, had only one weakness. He was a collector of maxims. He was a maxim hoarder.

One of his favorite maxims was, “If we magnified our blessings the same way we magnify our disappointments, we’d all be much happier.”

So now, I am through whining and moaning. I am donning the rose-colored glasses and looking on the bright side this Independence Day.

Being American means “I can.”

I can always look on the bright side of life like online bill paying (no stamps).

I can get to know my neighbors better and see what they have to borrow.

I can honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedoms.

I can strive for a better job — or to do a better job where I am.

I can eat healthier foods, exercise so as to avoid eating hospital food.

I can learn something new every day, even if that is why it is not a good idea to skin a skunk.

I can greet each day with an attitude of gratitude, being thankful for the fragrance of sage after a thunderstorm and having food on the table, and potential food, the deer, eating my petunias.

I can be thankful for living in big sky country, on the edge of a vast wilderness, even if it does contain wolves.

I can be thankful for deafening silence — and for the sound of music, as long as it isn’t “The Sound of Music.”

I can be thankful for extremely remote places that even a 4x4 vehicle can’t reach.

I can watch the red-tailed hawks riding thermal currents.

I can enjoy frugal outdoor fun, watching birds and clouds practically for free.

Yes, despite the economy, despite a June so rainy that Vacation Bible Schools gave realistic ark-building lessons, despite health care being as expensive as gold but more tarnished, we live in a Grande part of the world. 

Let the fireworks begin.