Mid-Atlantic Misfit

Mid-Atlantic Misfit

Life between cultures

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Feeling thankful

23 November 2017 , , , , , , ,

It’s a clear, crisp and sunny day as I write this at friends’ in the northern suburbs of Boston, only some 50 miles or so from where those fleeing pilgrims landed and named the new settlement the exact same thing as where they set sail from (inventive those Pilgrims). It’s also coincidentally where I was born… Plymouth, that’s England, not Massachusetts.

The tradition of this day of course dates back to when these settlers and native Americans celebrated the harvest together, giving thanks for nature’s bounty.  That would be before they wiped out those natives through disease and attack and stole their land, but I digress…

So this is a natural day to not just stuff your face full of the bounty from the harvesting of the supermarket, but a day on which to reflect, give thanks and feel gratitude.  My first thought always when I think of what I’m thankful for is the friends in my life.  For me perhaps more so than many, as I’m estranged from my entire family.  Though widely scattered, meaning I don’t get to see you as often as I’d like, you’re always in my corner, there to support me in the down times and celebrate with me in the good ones.  It’s wonderful this year to reconnect with good friends here in Boston and share in this day, my first proper Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.A.

I’m also thankful for my health.  In a year when I’ve seen too many friends in hospital or others battling cancer, heart disease and depression, I’m very fortunate that I’ve had no serious health issue.   The odd shoulder twinge, cold or a few down days, but even my old foe the black dog I’ve managed to keep at bay this year.   We truly have nothing without our health and so I feel fortunate that mine enables rather than disables me and as I approach 50, I’m conscious I won’t always be able to say this.

Next it’s time to give thanks for my career, a career which has made this big move to the new world possible and has delivered three promotions in the last three years.   Again, when contrasted with seeing friends laid off, and search to find a new career path, I feel especially lucky.   That said, I’ve recently seen colleagues laid off suddenly as our company spins off 3 businesses, which represent 20% of our revenue.   It’s such a tough time of year for this to happen.  It’s happened to me twice in the past, and fortunately for me that’s always resulted in better jobs and a higher salary.   But you just never know, despite your education and experience, how much longer your luck will hold out. Corporate America takes no prisoners.  It’s brutal, cutthroat and quick when they want you out.

There are times when I’ve seriously questioned the wisdom of upping sticks and hauling my butt to a new continent, country and city in my middle age. You really do have to almost start from scratch in terms of making a home, putting down roots, establishing good friendships, etc.   However, those feelings of homesickness pass, new people enter your life and you adjust over time, well to most things, the current occupant of the White House I’ll never get used to.   All this said, the move has been a great one for my career… I’m earning far more than I did in the UK and although there’s uncertainty, next year I should have my Green Card and so if I do lose my job, I will have many other options since I’ll no longer be tied to my current employer through my visa.

I’m quite well travelled and so it’s easy for me to contrast my home to those in poorer areas of the US, UK and other countries.   I wake up each day to the most wondrous view of Lower Manhattan, and whenever I doubt what I’ve accomplished in life or question the decision to leave London, I look out and count my blessings.   It also serves as something which spurs me on.   I feel incredibly fortunate.   There is such a contrast between the haves and have nots in this country, and the social safety net is perilously thin here, so you really need be vigilant, work hard and smart and remember how fortunate you are, not that material things are the most important, but so many struggle to put a roof over their head or to even feed their families.  In recent years this contrast has only become more acute.  I could write volumes of my political objections to the policies that exploit the weak and the poor, but I’ll save that for another post.

So those are just a few of the many things I’m thankful for on this day.  I won’t steal more time from you… go, enjoy this day if you have it off, cherish your friends and family, but never fail to appreciate the good things in your life, and no matter what your challenges are, there are always things we should be grateful for.

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