Nothing happened on 9/11/11, but that nonevent didn’t make the headlines. On 9/10 the media told us they had unconfirmed information that Al Qaeda was planning a tenth-anniversary attack, but just like the rapture predictions earlier this year, nothing happened.
No news, I suppose, is good news. But the best news we could have received would have been a reminder that nothing happened. The media didn’t do this. “Nothing Happened” never makes the headlines nor enters our awareness, because we take it for granted. Maybe we should learn how to be thankful for the many bad things that don’t happen to us, or the good things that do occur on a regular basis.
One day last week, I decided to make a list of things that didn’t happen. No reports of corruption in our village government. No one died of starvation in Forest Park. No homicides in this village with big city access. No basements flooded. No reports of child abuse in our churches. No pedestrians got run over on Madison Street.
An angry, troubled kid didn’t open fire with an automatic weapon in our middle school. No police cruisers were blown up by IEDs. Thousands of computers didn’t crash. The Cubs didn’t lose (they didn’t play, though).
Then I made a list of things that did happen but will never make the news. I chatted with my Muslim neighbor at Louie’s. My car started. The Montessori school I see from my living-room window opened on time and the children were safe. ComEd had the power on. People responded to my phone messages. I saw women driving cars.
Blue skies – for a while, at least. Everyone drove on the right side of the street. The smell outside Kay’s Bakery was delicious. The elevator in my condo building worked. The caffeine in my morning coffee did its job. My men’s group had a meeting. Roy Strom picked up my condo building’s garbage right on schedule. I woke up this morning.
The above is business as usual for most of us, but if you watch the news at all, you know that people in many places in the world don’t take any of that for granted. In Saudi Arabia, for example, it’s against the law for women to drive a car.
Our cup is half full, not half empty. Focus on the positive. Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. We’ve heard these aphorisms so many times that we take their truths for granted in the same way that we think we are entitled to good health, winning sports teams and worry-free retirements.
In 1988 Robert Fulghum declared, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Figuring out how to get this country out of a recession, or Madison Street prosperous like it used to be or the unemployment rate down to 4 percent is way above my pay grade. But how to live a meaningful life is really not that hard – at least not in theory. Most of us were taught the principles we needed as we grew up. One of those guidelines is to not take anything for granted, least of all what we learned as children.
Knowing the principles, of course, is a lot easier than applying them. It’s kind of like my cell phone: Even though I’ve read the directions, I still can’t always make the stupid thing work like it’s supposed to. But if I forget it at home, I don’t have a prayer of it helping me when I need it.
Keep up with new postings of my travels alone in Thailandby clicking on the following link or going to my blog at OakPark.com/ThailandTravels.
Tom Holmes has worked in Forest Park since 1982 as a pastor and as a writer. He is grateful that his children grew up in this town and finds inspiration in the personal relationships he has developed with so many.