First, let me preface this post. It deals with two tightly intertwined concepts: Cause and effect, or in this case, effect, then cause.
On this Thanksgiving night, we are reading headlines about the second consecutive evening of terrorist attacks in Mumbai; over 125 are already dead, with hundreds of others wounded. Over ten million people in our own country are jobless, and at least 3.5 million more are homeless. We’ve undoubtedly entered a recession; banks and large corporations are plunging like dominoes, and global economies are in peril. Things are largely expected to become worse before they get better. This Thanksgiving, it may seem there is little to be thankful for.
This is where the “effect” part comes in. Even in our darkest, most dismal hours, we are able to see light and find hope—if we’re willing to look hard enough. No, I’m not talking about that bright spot you may have in your day tomorrow if you’re so fortunate (and daring) to score a 50-inch-television for $700 at the Super Jumbo Mart (that’s determination and a bit of naivety—that same TV will probably crop up for $650 the weekend before Christmas, so hold your horses for now). I’m talking about that peculiar little seed inside each of us that gives us the ability to find something positive in every person, in every day, no matter how dark the clouds hovering above. Even during our darkest moments, there is some light to be found, it’s just ours for the finding. Maybe it’s as simple as a glimmer of sunshine peeking through the clouds on a winter morning—maybe it’s even less obvious than that, but it’s there…keep looking.
Bringing ourselves to overcome the negative (and there seems to be a lot of it these days) is not a solo mission. The strongest, most influential people have values instilled in them by strong and influential parents, teachers and mentors—good leaders make other people into good leaders. This is where that “cause” part of this post comes in. Just short of two weeks ago, my good friend Clayton (THE DIFF M.C.) lost his father, Bob, to cancer. Prior to his passing, I had only met and spoke with Bob once. I was always pretty sure Clayton was the most passionate human being I would ever meet in my life—that was until I met Clayton’s dad. Our first and only encounter was following a performance of “Smokey Joe’s Café” by The Park Players in Detroit (Bob was a 30+ year veteran of community theatre).
Bob was ecstatic about the play, and Clayton’s performance (Clayton is a theatre veteran himself). It was refreshing to see someone have so much passion for life and the theatre, and to have so much pride in his son. It immediately became apparent that his father instilled the passion that Clayton has for life, and his undying dedication to the things he believes in, in him.
Bob worked as a schoolteacher for many years, but it’s clear that he was a great teacher and mentor inside, and outside the classroom. Two days ago I attended Bob’s memorial service, held at the community center where he had performed and produced theatre for so many years. Behind that same building was where Clayton played baseball and soccer as a young boy. The stage in that building was Bob’s stage. That building was everything that he was: Gracefully aged, full of wisdom and endless stories, and love. Bob saw the best in people, and in life. Bob was the “cause” that affected so many peoples’ lives; made apparent by a building filled beyond capacity by hundreds of people he had touched in some way.
If you’re having a difficult time thinking of something to be thankful for tonight, be thankful for people like Bob—the dreamers, the passionate ones, the people who realize if you want to see the rainbow, you’re going to have to weather the rain. They’re out there, and we can all learn from them—if we try hard enough, and look deeply enough, we can be just like them.
My condolences go out to Bob’s wife Marcia, Jude, Mary and Clayton, who lost their father, and his four grandchildren who lost their “Pappy”. Bob may have moved on from this earth, but the lessons and passion he instilled in the hundreds, if not thousands of lives he touched will never be lost. In this hour of darkness, we will mourn and be sad, but we will also see that glimmer of light as we realize Bob will live on in our memories and hearts forever.