“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ~ Epicurus
Thanksgiving 2020 is almost here. Given the events of this year, it may seem difficult to embrace a spirit of gratitude.
Like everyone, there’s been a lot I have missed throughout most of 2020. I have missed handshakes and hugs when seeing old friends or meeting new ones, the opportunity to travel around freely visiting job sites and clients, dinners at restaurants, face-to-face business meetings, and the days when it was not necessary to remember to carry a mask and hand sanitizer whenever I leave the house. In general, what I have missed the most this year, though, is the daily personal interaction with others, by just spending time with and being in the presence of friends and colleagues.
I would argue though that it is during the most difficult times when we often find ourselves with the greatest sense of gratitude. One of the lessons of the past few months has been the reminder that it is the basic and simple aspects of our lives that are most meaningful. Our health, our families, our communities and our personal relationships are what truly matter, and it is these which sustain us through difficult times and challenges.
As we approach Thanksgiving, it is an appropriate time to take a moment and reflect upon those aspects of our lives for which each of us should be thankful. It has become an annual Thanksgiving tradition of mine to write down what I am most thankful for in my life. Some are significant, some may seem silly, but all are meaningful to me. Below is a sampling of that list, so I invite you to read some of what I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving.
This season, I am thankful for:
My children, who have moved on to other cities, forged their own paths, created new relationships, and most importantly, are making the world around them into a better place than before they entered, which is really what every parent should wish for;
Front porches or rear decks with porch swings and rocking chairs, where we find time to relax, chat, think or just enjoy what the world is made of;
Construction managers and construction labor, the frontline workers of my chosen profession, who won’t let rain, snow, blazing heat, or a viral pandemic keep them from building great structures;
All the other front-line workers in our community, who sacrifice their time and families to put others’ health and safety ahead of their own. Unfortunately, we tend to forget how important they really are, until that moment we need them to be the most important people in our lives;
Food that was prepared to be enjoyed as much as, or even more so, than it was prepared to be nourishment. Those long-held family recipes, the annual holiday dinners, bar-b-que that was smoked deep and long, dishes prepared using ingredients only available certain times of the year, and those special homemade desserts that make dieting seem so silly;
Family and friends, whether they be Democrats or Republicans, old or young, southern or northern, black or white, gay or straight, rich or poor, carnivores or vegans, it all doesn’t matter. They are the people in my world who make my life worthwhile, who lift me up when I need a boost, or bring me down with I fly too high. They allow me to share their lives, give me of their time, and expect nothing in return except love, respect and decency;
Bicycles, from single-speed beach cruisers made for slow meanders to sleek road bikes made for climbing hills and speeding down descents, these simple machines allow all of us the opportunity to be outdoors, get some exercise, and spend time with others, all while requiring nothing more than a basic skill we learned as children;
Anger, at injustice, dishonesty, apathy and the other ills of society, because it is anger that makes us take a stand and work to eliminate those issues and the pain they cause;
Beaches, mountains, tree-lined streets, country meadows, gurgling streams and any other place that takes us outdoors for the sole purpose of being outdoors;
Artists, whether creating music or film, painting captivating scenes on a canvas or writing excellent reads, they and their talents bring a vibrancy and excitement to our worlds;
Podcasts, my latest go-to for the long drives when I am seeking education, entertainment or a mixture of both;
People who truly care about the work they do, because whether that work is accomplished through the use of their hands or their brains, whether they are driven by a sense of pride, a passion for excellence or a level of integrity, they inspire others around them to be a little bit better and try a little bit harder;
Taylor, a beautiful young girl who because of her toughness, determination and spirit inspires all of us who know her to be more and do more with the gifts we’ve been given;
A boat anchored in a few feet of water, a fishing pole with bait shrimp on the hook, and the hope and anticipation that the next cast will land a fish worthy of an Instagram post;
Sharing a good bottle of wine with anyone who appreciates a good bottle of wine;
All of my colleagues and co-workers, who teach me, keep me humble, challenge me to be my best, and keep integrity at the forefront of what they do. They are a daily reminder that I have the best job in the whole world;
Parents, who during the past few months have had to take on greater roles and responsibilities than they possibly ever imagined, all while managing an ever-changing and unsettling environment, yet still maintaining a presence of strength and calm for those who depend upon them daily;
Sunsets on the point of the coastal town I call home, with the city in the background, where even though I’ve watched it numerous times, I still feel the need take a picture every evening as I see it happening;
And Jen, my wife, best friend, and greatest cheerleader. She inspires me daily with her love of others. She allows me to chase my dreams however crazy they may sound, then serves as my compass when necessary. She cares about me passionately, accepts me without judgment, works tirelessly to support me, and yet still loves me unconditionally.
I wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.
Brian T. King is the founder of multiple businesses encompassing design, construction, real estate and manufacturing. A well-respected construction industry CEO, Brian enjoys offering guidance to young professionals, rising managers and entrepreneurs on a variety of topics – from personal and professional growth, to work/life balance – through his bi-weekly blog, national podcasts, and speaking engagements around the country.