The one thing I like most about humanity
Twenty years ago, on a soft September morning, I raced across my college campus to Accounting 101. A class that confused and frustrated me so much a few weeks later, I dropped it. And to this day, it was the only college course I ever dropped.
Outside the library stood a loose circle of students and teachers. They held hands, bowed their heads, and someone spoke in a low voice, “Our Father, who art in heaven… .” I passed a bench where two men, both wearing dress shirts and ties, sat with their arms draped across each other’s shoulders. Crying.
I tossed open the doors to the brick building where Accounting 101 was held and a young man I never saw before, and have never seen since, looked at me with big, wet brown eyes and said, “Oh my God.”
Last week, the remnants of Hurricane Ida smashed the East Coast. It brought tornadoes to my quiet nook of eastern Pennsylvania.
There is a nearby restaurant, which overlooks a creek, that was closed all of 2020 due to Covid. During the spring, on our way to baseball practice, Cindy, the kids, and I watched the workers hustle in and out of the restaurant, carrying big brown boxes, tables and chairs, preparing for the restaurant’s reopening. They strung outdoor lights, planted yellow flowers around the restaurant, and scattered the lawn with canopies for private outdoor seating.
We drove by the restaurant a day after Hurricane Ida hit and the creek had badly overflowed its banks. Most of the canopies were gone. The ones that remained, their frames were twisted and bent. Tumbles of tree branches clustered the mud-caked parking lot. The yellow flowers were gone. And an older woman stood in the restaurant’s front door, her hands on her hips, looking toward the swollen, brown creek.
On Saturday night, I sat on the couch and watched Notre Dame play Florida State on the opening weekend of the college football season. In the third quarter, Florida State replaced their starting quarterback with their backup, McKenzie Milton. In 2018, then playing quarterback for the University of Central Florida, Milton suffered a right leg injury so catastrophic that while in surgery, doctors debated amputation. Doctors not only had to repair his dislocated knee and torn ligaments, but they had to graft new veins to circulate blood flow throughout the leg. In 2019, a few months after surgery, he suffered a leg infection which led to another surgery, delaying his recovery another six months. And here Milton was, on Saturday, September 4, 2021, running across my TV screen like nothing had ever happened.
The thing I like most about humanity is our resiliency. I love against-all-odds stories. Stories that show how unbreakable the human spirit really is.
No matter the threat, no matter the suffering, our willingness to knuckle-up and just-keep-going has sustained us for 5 million years and counting. I have witnessed, I’m sure you have, our ability to rebuild our cities, our businesses, and ourselves when suffering catastrophe.
Circumstances change. Hardships come and go. To be human is to suffer. But below our soft flesh lies a hard, muscular stubbornness. An uncompromising resilience to face anything that comes our way. We can’t see what’s coming. We don’t know what hardships await. All we have is the resiliency that has always been encoded deep in our DNA.
On this day, I have a simple wish for you: I wish you resilience. I wish you strength and courage to keep going. To triumph over the obstacles that burden you. To recognize you’re more tenacious, more resourceful than you ever realized.
Unless you’re taking Accounting 101. Because if you are, I’d advise you to give up and drop that burden immediately.
PS: Drum Roll….I’m excited to officially announce the title of my forthcoming book: Bedtime Stories for the Living. And that, Drum Roll…. paperback and ebook versions of Bedtime Stories for the Living will be released on Amazon December 3, 2021!
Here’s the cover. A HUGE thanks to my friend, artist Amy Terlecki for designing the cover! To sound like my 13 year-old-daughter….It’s AMAAAAZING!!!
I have a lot to do between now and then. A pre-launch goal is to find 100 people who would be willing to read a pre-production PDF version of BSFL and, on December 3rd, write, and upload an honest book review on Amazon. If you’re interested in helping me out, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Amazon Review Thanks!
Also, if anyone knows Oprah and wants to pass along her cell phone number, I’d happily text her and propose BTSL for future book club consideration.
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