The Guilty Party

Monday, November 24, 2008

Faith and Gratitude

November 24, 2009

Faith and Gratitude

A couple of days ago, on one of these Saturdays that all of a sudden I have free*, we had some shopping to do. First it was to Costco for necessities and a couple of Christmas gifts. The place was hopping. Normally I am not a big fan of crowded stores, but lately I have begun to see a lot of the other sort. The reasons behind this and the consequences of it happening are clear and frankly troubling. So a busy store is a happy sight, even if I do have to steer a huge shopping cart around numbskulls who stop in mid-stride to gape at a thirty-pack of compact fluorescent light bulbs or are so engrossed in their cell phone conversations they have lost all awareness of their immediate surroundings. I don't know if the dollar per transaction numbers at Costco are what they would hope for, but it was good to see them busy.

After dropping off our perishable items at home we headed out again, this time to the local plant nursery. It was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in November in Phoenix. Blue sky, glad-to-be-alive weather, just the sort of day to be stocking up on fall and winter vegetation for around the house. Used to be that on a day like this the parking lot would be jammed, the employees scurrying around with great purpose and the lines at the registers long. Not so this time. Ours was the sixth car in the lot (I counted, it didn't take long). We were immediately greeted by a young fellow who was eager as could be to assist us find what we came for, and, one got the idea, maybe a few things we hadn't thought of yet. I told him we were looking for spring bulbs. Well, they still had a few and would I follow him? Sure. He hovered for a few seconds to make sure I felt comfortable with the little rotating rack that held the few dozen small mesh sacks with tulips, daffodils and such before heading off to see if the other set of customers within shouting distance had any questions. We picked out three sets of bulbs and a bag of bone meal and headed to the register. There were three young men to assist there. Did we need any mulch? No. Disappointment was registered. Soil amendments? All set on that. Again disappointment. Perhaps some Miracle-Gro fertilizer or terra cotta garden stakes to identify the plants in our garden? Got all we need (yes, we do have a few of those garden stakes. Hardly use them but they are kinda cool.) Ah well, so this is it for today? Yep. When we drove out of the parking lot the population was down to four cars.

So, where was I going with this? A couple of different places actually. First, I have a feeling that some of the problem we are collectively encountering with the economy is our own fault. We read all the bad news, we hear on the radio and see on the television how the banks are afraid to lend money and this business is filing bankruptcy and that business is laying off thousands of people and the whole place is heading to heck in a brand new GM product that has been sitting on the lot for months. So what should we do? Get out there and spend what makes sense. Don't overspend for heaven's sake, but don't run and hide either. If the bankbook will reasonably accommodate a bit of activity then do it. Somebody's job may depend on it. And eventually your job and mine depend on that somebody else having a job. That's my understanding of economic theory anyway.

It's kind of like planting bulbs. You spend money (five bucks for six bulbs), you stick them in the ground and for the most part that's it. And maybe just maybe come spring time you have some darned pretty flowers. Flowers that will brighten your day every time you see them. Flowers that will make you grateful to be alive. But if you don't plant them all you'll have is dirt. Or weeds.

Okay, so that's not going to get me any Nobel prizes for economics, but I still say faith, taking the time and investing the energy to do the groundwork and a good dose of common sense can go a long way.

Lastly a short bit about gratitude. You know, what with Thanksgiving coming up in a few days and all. Somewhere in one of my commonplace books is one of those quotes that has stayed with me and yet for the life of me I can't remember who I copied it from. Here's the gist of it: The only prayers worth praying are to say thank you and I'm sorry. I like that. We are seeing the consequences of a time during which so many "Gimme" prayers were offered up, and in some cases seemed to be answered. Didn't get us very far, did it? So saying "Thank you" for all the blessings we enjoy and "I'm sorry" for all the times we screw up seems a whole lot more profitable in the long run. And according to an article in the Arizona Living section of the Arizona Republic today, being thankful can even make you healthier. And with the cost of health care nowadays you'd think that would be a great motivator right there!

*If you have ever worked retail, especially in management, you know what I mean about Saturdays.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!


Lexi said...

I remember during the last recession after Minty was born, thinking that if everyone went out and bought six things, we'd all be better off.

When I'm glum, I start counting ten good things. Much better than totting up the bad ones, which makes one glummer.

Wise words, as usual, Alan.

(Unlike the word verifications today - moonshet and oveness...)

Anna said...

Thank you for the reminder of those two great gifts that bring purpose and joy to a life.

Thank you also for encouraging me to spend some money on my Christmas shopping trip to London.

Anna said...

I shall temper your good advice with a quotation from Charles Dickens' character, Mr Micawber:

'Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.'

You needed no reminder of that, I am sure. I hope that Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and their advisers need no reminder too.

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I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.