Pay Attention to the Open Sky

Shot from where I park my car

I’m fighting off a wicked cold, which was a little tougher yesterday, because I got my flu shot on Monday. I was feeling a slight touch of flu by the end of the workday yesterday, which really made me feel like crap. I left work a half-hour early. Yesterday was a cool, rainy, dreary day. But, I felt good despite all of these things, because I voted, and I trusted that many of my fellow citizens would get out and vote, and they did. My good friend’s wife just got her citizenship a couple months ago, so this was her first time exercising her new rights as a citizen. I was so happy for her. We took them out to eat the night she became a citizen. She was beaming.

I’m still proud of my country, despite all of its warts and flaws — maybe, especially, because of them. We somehow manage to keep moving forward, even in the darkest of times, even when we swing from one extreme to the other. We’re working it out, just as we’ve been doing for 242 years, and counting. I’m reading a couple of books right now, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, which inspired the musical Hamilton, which we saw in June at the Kennedy Center and which in turn inspired me to read the book. Hey, at least we don’t have duels these days, where former vice presidents cut down significant founding fathers! The other book is about the Civil War, Return to Bull Run, by John J. Hennessy. We think things are bad now? Read up on what this country was like during its Civil War. Torn the hell up, it was.

Granted, they didn’t have semi-automatic weapons back then, and crazies who regularly went out and cut down innocent citizens, for no good reason other than getting their heads full of hatred and violence. They just killed each other because there was a war, and that’s what you do in a war. You kill. Things were a mess then — they’re a mess now. Yet, we soldier on, we keep trying to make it better, even when all appearances are that it’s getting worse.

Crossing the Potomac — what a sky!

We make choices. Each of us have to do this, every day. We can choose to be victims, or we can choose to do something about whatever, or whoever, is victimizing us. While we can’t change them — we can change ourselves. We can choose to not react to violence with violence, to hatred with hatred. We can choose to look at ourselves, and ask a few simple questions — how did I do today? What went right, and what could have been better? How can I improve how I show up tomorrow? What am I grateful for in my life today? What else? One more, now. Three gratefuls isn’t too much to ask. Do this every day, and watch what happens.

Some days my heart’s not in it — but, I do it, anyway. Go through the motions on the days I’m not feeling it. When I do, I have fewer of those days.

As the song says, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” I’m accountable today for what I have, and what I think I lack. It’s usually all in my mind.

Ya think?

Oh, I took these shots of the sky as I was heading to my car from my office. The last two, I took while driving across the Potomac to pick up my friend and carpool partner. (It’s okay — I was stopped in traffic at the time).

Any day that can end with a sky like this, can’t be all bad. As Jackson Browne once sang, “Keep a fire burning in your eyes, and pay attention to the open sky, you never know what will be coming down…”

You never do know. That’s what makes life so goddamned interesting!

The Story Hall

A gathering place for stories to be told, read and…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store