Here we are, smack in the middle of the holiday season, celebrating old traditions (or perhaps not celebrating them) and even taking on new ones. To file under “new,” I have a little Thanksgiving tradition of my own which I dusted off and brought out again in my home this year. As the day and our time of family togetherness drew to a close, I tapped into my warehouse of irony and said: “Thank Goodness that’s over. Now we don’t have to be thankful again until next year.”
Anybody that doesn’t know me well usually responds to that with some sort of disapproving expression, or at least takes a tiny bit of offense. Well, of course they do. It’s to the great frustration of my editor that I toss off such thoughts and leave the reader (or hearer, as in this case) to draw a deeper truth from it, although I do admit this reflection and dawning of truth I hope for probably happens less than often. This situation is somewhat mitigated, at least in the case of my Thanksgiving, by some of my family members. Some who feel the need to explain whatever I say — if not make excuses for me in general — and apologize for my mere existence.
Bear with me as I go a little further down this trail, will you? I promise not to get too preachy on you, but have you ever read the 7th chapter of Romans from the Holy Bible? Author Paul (spell check: it’s not Arthur Paul, it’s “Author”) writes:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
I can identify with that. Therefore, each Thanksgiving I remind myself and those closest to my heart that we all know, even wish perhaps, to live continuously with a thankful heart. At the same time, it’s so easy to forget that in the many moments of life’s stresses, and actually live that way. And no, I’m not talking about you. You’ll have to measure your own heart. It’s my own that I find so lacking at times.
Just a few days ago I was telling a friend about my recent trip to Salt Lake City. It was a long and uncomfortable flight, requiring five hours in the air from Orlando to SLC. Then we laughed as we reflected that just a few generations ago, it took most of a year to make that journey. Sometimes, a whole generation died on the way West and a new generation was born! Today it takes five hours… what an amazing time to be alive.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I am not telling you to be thankful. I would no more do that than tell the grass to grow in the summer rains, or a pup to wag his tail. You and I will do what our natures tell us to do, whether it is shouted to us or whispered.
What I am suggesting, however, is that as this year draws to a close amid all the flurry and bustle of the holiday season, find time to take a little inventory of your most personal and important asset, the one most important investment you have: yourself. Find a moment or two for some introspection during the holidays. Count the things you cherish and the things that weigh you down. Count your joys, your sorrows and your blessings — count them all.
Yes, it is true that I regularly beat you about the head and shoulders to follow a plan and stay the course towards your life’s financial goal. Today I’d like to gently suggest that you think a bit more about how you invest with your heart, in those things you hold most dear. And to keep those things closest to you in the year to come, directing each step along life’s way.
Like the trip across America, our life’s journey becomes shorter every year. It is my wish that your trip will be filled with joy and purpose at every step of the way.