Tag Archives: gratitude


Poisoning Gratitude With Pride.

Gratitude is an abused sentiment. Every day we are given reasons to be grateful but we don’t always see it, or it is ruined it with self pride. An ungrateful person is usually someone who has been given so many reasons to show gratitude that they become desensitized to the blessings all around them.

Like the little kid who gets such a huge pile of toys for Christmas every year that he can’t appreciate all of them, ungrateful people are always the ones who have the most to be grateful for. They go to a job that they may not like, blind to the fact that there are millions who don’t have a job. They live in a house that may be too small or not in the ideal neighborhood, and don’t notice the homeless in their own town. They have a refrigerator full of food and don’t hear the cries of the hungry. They may be fabulously successful and have everything they ever wished for, and are ungracious about it.

Gratitude is easy to blow off when times are good. Being given a jacket means more to the man who has none than it does to the man with a closet full of jackets. It should not be that way, nor should we devalue gratitude when it is offered to us.

There is a YouTube video of a hidden camera social experiment where a man pretending to be a homeless bum in ratty clothes went around offering money to random well-dressed people on the street, sort of like a “reverse beggar”. Only a few showed gratitude but did not accept the money. Most derided him and were offended that anyone would presume that they needed money in the first place. The most disturbing scene was when he offered cash to a guy in an expensive suit stepping out of a high end luxury car. The would-be beneficiary harshly berated the “homeless” donor and pointed out using numerous expletives that he was a man of great means.

It is a difficult video to watch, but it sadly illustrates that simply being nice to others does not in and of itself constitute a generous heart. The video points out, correctly, that many people are generous not out of love for their fellow man, but to burnish their own self importance. Outwardly generous but inwardly selfish people use charity as way to exert their perceived superiority over others. They are incapable of showing gratitude but expect others to show it to them. Just as it is wrong not to show gratitude for those who are kind to us, it is also wrong to not accept it when we are on the receiving end.

All major religions including Christianity believe in some form of karma. They may have different names and definitions for it, but they all support the concept that our actions, both good and bad, will come back to us in one form or another, possibly not in this lifetime. Christianity openly teaches that people who go around bragging about their good deeds perhaps unknowingly accept that feeling big and important in the short term is the only reward they will get…they have essentially cancelled out their own good karma. The humble gratitude of those we are generous to along with the promise of some in-kind compensation later (karma) is supposed to be the reward of good works. Pride ruins that cycle.

If you look around social media, you’ll get the impression that doing good deeds for others is just another excuse to say, “Look at me! Wonderful, incredible, awesome me!!” It’s nice that they are being nice, but when the real end game is self-indulgence, they ruin what should be a beautiful and understated transaction.

It’s unfortunate that gratitude is often only offered after the positive conclusion of a difficult problem because it is something that we should give every day, just for being alive. And it is even more unfortunate that accepting gratitude is misused as a vehicle to prop up one’s delicate, all-important self esteem. Gratitude is a catharsis, a celebration of the heart that is worthwhile all the time under all conditions but requires sincerity to be effective. Gratitude in its true form is giving back the love others give to you, without conditions or ulterior motives. Gratitude is a two way street that should always be offered generously and accepted with a glad spirit.


An Internet Version Of The Neighborhood Bar.

By Chris Warren

Three years ago when I started seriously kicking around the idea of starting my own blog, one of my early concepts was to address political topics. I think I have pretty good insight and jumping into the political bar fight seemed like a good direction for me to go.

After much thought I decided not to become part of that growing political bar fight. It wasn’t lost on me that there were already countless other blogs, on line forums, websites, podcasts, cable TV channels, and radio stations feeding the political monster. I didn’t see what I could contribute that was different and fresh and not already being done by others. The world does not need another partisan screamer.

I instead decided to do something that (unfortunately) isn’t already commonplace: Thoughtful, positive, and relevant commentary that anyone could relate to about everyday people and topics. Although political issues and controversy are not off limits, they would be only an occasional diversion, and even then treated lightly.

My venture has been a modest success. I try not to get too hung up on web site traffic metrics, but let’s be honest: I don’t do this just to hear myself talk. Twenty First Summer gets enough page views to verify that I’m onto something, but not so much that I’m tempted to get puffed up about it. There is clearly a demand for level headed commentary and discussion.

It’s a comfortable, familiar room where anyone can stop in and know they’ll leave better than they came.

More important than quantifiable statistics is what the readers think and feel. It’s very difficult to tell what kind of an impact a blog makes beyond site traffic data. For every comment left on an article or email sent through my contact page, there are hundreds of anonymous page views where no feedback is left. Maybe they liked it, maybe they didn’t. But people are listening, and that’s what matters.

From Day One the goal of Twenty First Summer was to be an internet version of an old time neighborhood bar where the vibe was friendly and everyone got along even if they didn’t always agree. I’m never 100% sure how well that goal is being met, but anecdotally I can tell the bar is busy and everyone’s having a great time.

The other day I received an unexpected message  from longtime regular reader “Mark in Illinois.”  He said, (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Chris, I want to thank you so much for your blog. All I ever hear is about how Donald Trump sucks, or Donald Trump is great. Or Hillary sucks, or Hillary is great. I’m sick of being beaten to death with this political shit on line and TV and everywhere. I know when I go to your blog it will always be something that makes me feel good. I never have to brace myself before I click on Twenty First Summer.”

His trust and kind words were, to say the least, deeply flattering. They also affirm everything I’ve been trying to do. My internet neighborhood bar is not just a place to tip a virtual glass. It’s a comfortable, familiar room where anyone can stop in and know they’ll leave better than they came.

So the message this week is a simple but very sincere thank you to all the readers who share my Thoughtful, Positive, Relevant vision.

At Twenty First Summer, it’s always happy hour. I invite everyone to subscribe via email using the form in the upper right corner of this page (non mobile version) and you’ll be automatically notified when new articles are posted. There is also a TFS Facebook page, and Twitter @twentyfirstsum. And please, invite your friends and spread the word in your own social media circles! Some of you already have, and I’m sooooo blessed and grateful!

As the world gets more dangerous and the political acrimony goes into a full rolling boil, I’ll be here quietly tending my internet bar because I do not believe that the world totally sucks. I thank everyone for their help in proving that I am right.


A Shopping Mall Buddha And The Materialism Of Now.

By: Chris Warren.

I have fifty two items on my Amazon “wish list”. I don’t know how that compares with the average shopper, but I’m going to guess that I am a lightweight by Amazon standards. My wish list is just that..things that would be nice to have but are not particularly a priority. Some of the items have been on my list for years. The older I get, the easier it is to want stuff less. And the stuff I do want has a higher, long term purpose. Materialism for materialism’s sake is the source of a lot of the world’s problems.

During a recent weekend road trip I found myself hanging out in a very huge, very famous, and very upscale shopping mall. I’m not much of a mall person, but I do like to people watch and enjoy the experience of being around the energetic liveliness. As we strolled past the $1000 Coach purses and $600 North Face jackets, I noticed that pretty much everything that is sold in this mall is not necessary for daily life. I could not spot a single item that was truly needed and did not have a more reasonably priced alternative. I’m sure all those people in the North Face store were not there to provision themselves for an ascent of Mount Everest.

No one chooses to be poor, but materialism is a deliberate, conscious decision.

I don’t understand what motivates anyone to be sucked into the vortex of materialism. I try hard not to be judgmental, but it sure isn’t easy. Ultimately, I understand that how others spend their money is none of my business. At the same time though I don’t feel too sorry for all the people who are up to their eyeballs in debt from impressing themselves and everyone with their trendy, premium brand stuff. No one chooses to be poor, but materialism is a deliberate, conscious decision.

Reaching a stage in life where it’s pretty certain that I am not destined to be rich is in a way, liberating. It does not bother me that I can’t (or more accurately, shouldn’t) buy the North Face jacket. It does not bother me that some of my neighbors have spent more money on cars than I have spent on a house. It’s not that I’m poor, it’s that my priorities go beyond the materialism of now. My focus is on things that matter, like securing my retirement and making room in my future plans for friends and family members who are not as well situated as me.


The Buddhist religion teaches that desire is the source of evil. If we remove desire from our hearts, then evil would by default not exist. I admit the previous synopsis oversimplifies one of the world’s great religions, but it does call attention to a valid point of Buddhism: Desire (from which materialism is derived) is a driving force behind pretty much everything bad.

I think we’d be in a better place if people desired less stuff. Unfortunately, we live in a society that celebrates materialism, and social media is eager to feed the pig. For months, one of my “friends” filled the internet with weekly photo updates of their new house construction; it read like an over the top real estate listing. The news feed was briefly interrupted only to announce their new boat and ski trip to Aspen. This person is not an outlier. Facebook is brimming with photos of new cars, exotic vacations, and expensive dinners. It seems no one can resist running to their computers to show off their bling.

Maybe I was a Buddhist in a previous life. Maybe I’m just simpleminded. For sure I’m not the kind of customer a mall operator loves to have around. They might get me for a $6 slice of pizza or sell me on an occasional good deal, but most of the time it’s easy for me to keep my wallet in my pocket and walk on by. Buddha has been dead for about 2400 years and his message is still relevant. There is great personal peace in being happy with what I’ve already got and feeling no intense pull to have more. Removing oneself from the materialism of now settles and warms a soul like no six hundred dollar North Face jacket could ever approach.

work life 2

Work Life Reality Check.

By: Chris Warren

I recently went through a short period at my job where my schedule was juggled and I got stuck working undesirable hours. It was a temporary arrangement and I fought hard to get out of it, but with summer vacations and a coworker on disability, the scheduling holes needed to be filled. It sucked; yet as much as I don’t like having my work life messed with, I came out the other side a better person.

I am a communications electronics technician. We don’t turn the cell towers and the TV and the internet off at 5:00 every afternoon and leave. If you are getting service on your cellphone, or watching the Insomniac Channel, or shopping on Amazon in the middle of the night, that’s not magic. It means real people like me are out there working hard to make it happen. Every moment of every day. We never close.

As I pushed through the first of my series of odd shifts I resented the idea that I was there while everyone else is sleeping in. After a while, I became more tempered and introspective. “There are a lot of other people working crappier hours for a lot less than what you earn,” I thought. “Don’t be a whiney crybaby. You’re not better or more deserving than anyone else.” The work life reality check was well timed.

work life

My employer’s clients demand that we be there for them around the clock. Reading into this a little further, I like to shop and eat out on weekends and holidays, and late at night, much the same as anyone. When I’m wandering through Target at 8:00 on a Sunday night, I am supporting the very thing that I resent being done to me. If it were not for people like me, the Target employees would be at home resting. They are there because that’s what their clients want.

Not too long ago the world did not turn so fast and consumer demands were more modest. Every business was closed on Sunday except the pharmacy and the grocery stores, which were open until 1:00pm to catch the after church crowd. When the supermarket “expanded” its hours to 6:00pm, it was a big deal. Even gas was hard to get on Sunday. Since that halcyon era it’s become an expectation to be able to get anything, any time.

As I rolled home from work late Sunday I drove past the shopping malls and fast food places and movie theaters, all of which had full parking lots. On any other occasion I would probably stop and pick up a few things and not think much about how my shopping habits effect the work life of others. But on that particular night I didn’t want to be complicit in creating a reason for all these places to be open. I know I’m a hypocrite. I freely confess I am a perpetrator of the we-never-close business concept as much as I am a victim of it.

My future work life will probably include more undesirable schedule changes. There is a certain humbling effect in that it gives me more respect for those who work odd shifts as a matter of routine and get paid much less than myself. I’ve gone far in my profession, and in the hierarchy of my workplace I’m near the top. Occasionally pulling the junk shifts no one wants keeps me from getting too full of myself…and that can only result in a better work life when I’m on the clock, and a better, more grateful me the rest of the time.



back to school

Vignettes Of Back To School.

By: Chris Warren.

The flurry of activity known as back to school is noticeable even by those with no direct connection to this yearly spectacle. It starts after Fourth of July when the stores roll out school supplies and the TV fills with commercials featuring good looking, outgoing kids jumping around telling us how awesome buy one-get one half off shoes are. Looking past the capitalism, we who don’t have kids going back to school can find many cute and heartwarming scenes.

My niece just started junior high/middle school and I happened to be over there visiting when she found out what her class schedule would be. The “Sixth Grade Chick Information Network” went full blast with dozens of texts and social media posts. Every sixth grade girl in the land, it seems, absolutely had to know who is in what class with whom, and when.

My sister-in-law sensed my lack of appreciation for this momentous back to school announcement. With the patience of a mother who knows she is talking to someone who has no clue how Sixth Grade Chick culture works (a presumption that was 100% accurate), she explained, “It’s all up and down Facebook and Instagram. It’s all they are talking about.” I politely smile and kind of see the point. Kind of.

Less than a month prior to The Great Sixth Grade Schedule Reveal of 2015 my niece was upset about leaving her old grade school and starting junior high. She wanted to keep her friends and the surroundings that made her feel so welcomed and comfortable. I tried to think of something meaningful to say that didn’t sound like a dorky old dude was saying it. “I think that after you’ve been in your new school for two, maybe three days, you’re going to think it’s the greatest place ever.” Ok. That wasn’t too dorky old dude-ish.

If I want to maintain my status as the Cool Uncle, I have to keep it real, and not in an dorky old dude sort of way. Knowing how to respond to texts with the appropriate emojis and occasionally buying the kid some pizza bumps up my Cool Uncle rating, too. By the way, my prediction was wrong, in reverse. She thought her new school was the greatest place ever on the very first day.

My “adopted nephew” James, who I have previously written about in detail on this blog, is beginning his freshman year in college. He ultimately wants to go to medical school and become a doctor; I honestly think he has the mettle to pull it off. It was very flattering when he and his older sister made a long trip just to hang out with me for an afternoon.

We had a great time shooting guns at a local range (an outing I had regularly taken them on going back many years) followed by a pizza stop. They smiled and told me about their hopes and dreams, and more importantly, their plans to achieve them. I felt respected; they felt like they were being taken seriously. It was evident that we all were enjoying the good vibe.

As the afternoon was winding down and the kids were getting ready to leave, I had one simple request: I wanted to hear from them every now and then, maybe twice a month or so. A phone call would be awesome. An email would be nice. A text message would be perfectly acceptable. They agreed to my request, but I know how aloof college kids can be so I wasn’t expecting much of a follow through. Now I feel a little guilty for not having more faith in them; since then they both kept their word and have been in regular contact with me. I hope they know how much it really makes my day when I hear from them.

Back to school is usually a happy albeit harried period for most families. In the moment they may not realize that for some students it is a major life change. Parents will wonder in complete disbelief how all the years clicked by so fast. Every increasing grade number, every turn of the semester, every first day back to school, places students a little closer to the moment when they will be the adults worrying, wishing, and wanting the best for the young people they care about so much. It’s a genuine blessing when a few of those young people are someone else’s kids.

If you liked this article, please check out my other related posts:

The Class of 2015: Let Your Love Bind You To All Living Things.

Graduation’s Greatest Hits?

The Play Was Over, But The Plot Kept Going.

Beating The Higher Education Hustle.

The Tragedy and Comedy of Senior Summer.

Graduation Completes The Circle.


Fifteen Square Inches Of Gratitude.

By: Chris Warren

On the way in from work I stopped my motorcycle at the mailbox to grab whatever crap the Postal Service is supporting itself with these days. At least 90% of the mail I get I would not know the difference if it never arrived. The other 10% is a bill or something that will evolve into a lot of hassles if I blow it off. The mail seldom brings lasting gratitude; today was the rare exception.

Mixed into this otherwise typically disappointing delivery was a small envelope. I knew right away what it was. My “adopted” nephew James, whom I have written about before in this blog, sent a thank you card for the high school graduation gift I gave him. I was getting a good vibe before I even opened it. I really care about this kid and since he was born I have not passed on a chance to let him know it.

Let’s be honest: When it comes to gratitude, we can’t expect too much from guys his age. It’s just part of being eighteen. It’s not an excuse or a defense; I’m only saying that I understand the mindset. Back in my young days I wasn’t exactly gushing with appreciation for all the things my elders did for me either. That I received an actual physical card at all puts James well ahead of my formerly adolescent self.

James fulfilled his portion of a basic personal courtesy. Had it ended there I would have been completely satisfied, but he also included a lengthy handwritten note of gratitude to me for always being there for him. He filled up almost the whole inside of the small card telling me how cool I was and how much I meant to him. I always knew he respected and looked up to me but had never seen it in his own words; moments like this are my reward for giving a damn.

People who are true of heart do not do nice things for others with the expectation of bringing attention to themselves. In other words, if all you’re looking for is adulation for a good deed, then maybe you are doing the good deed for the wrong reasons. At the same time, no one wants to go totally unnoticed either.

Gratitude is the mechanism used to resolve this conflict. Most people expect to be thanked as a matter of social convention. I don’t see it that way and I know I’m in the minority. Gifts and favors are (supposed to be) a freewill gesture, so too is being grateful for them. I’ll thank those who are good to me but I’m not offended when someone does not send a written thank you for something I’ve done for them, even though I’m extra happy when they do. I already have the warm feeling of knowing I did a good deed. Anything beyond that is a bonus. Being kind to others has no net negative.

That brings me back to the simple lesson in James’ card. My thank you is knowing I played a small part in helping him become an amazing person. His putting it in writing was the bonus. I’m going to keep that card always because it reflects the sentiments of a young kid who thinks of me as a favorite uncle. I didn’t need to be told where I stand with James, nor did he need to say anything out of some concern that I was unaware of what he thought about me. The beauty of this transaction is that gratitude turns a good deed into a two way street, and that’s more than good enough for me.

Career Objective: Make It To Retirement With A Smile On My Face.

By: Chris Warren

I consider myself  to be among the lucky few who has a cool job that is engaging and interesting. A large majority of the time I like what I do, with occasional screw this! moments sprinkled in to remind me that it may be cool but it’s hardly paradise. I think I must have won some cosmic occupational lottery because for my whole life I’ve always seemed to land in nifty jobs as if by accident. Even through high school and college I managed to earn a buck without getting involved with the drudgery of fast food or retail.

51NKZtwI2FL._SY445_Now I’m in that strange zone where I’m certainly not a kid but also not nearly old enough to seriously consider retiring. I’m left wondering what’s next. Or if there even is a “next.”  I would not mind doing something else, but since I’m content where I am I see no point in changing just for the sake of change. I’ve asked the self-analyzing question: If I looked into a crystal ball and saw myself retiring from the job I’m doing now, would the vision be depressing or comforting? Am I ok with this for the rest of my career?

The short answer is yes, I’m ok with it. I still wonder though, is there anything better out there? Is this as good as it gets? I’ve decided not to beat the hell out of myself trying to resolve a question of circular logic. In theory, there is always something better, somewhere. It’s more worthwhile to focus on what’s right and positive about the job I already have.

It’s important to explain that being happy with where I am and being complacent and unmotivated to move forward are not the same thing. There was a period in my distant past where I was in a job that was respectable but well beneath my potential. I stayed there way too long, bullshitting myself that it was good enough. I managed to get out of that trap relatively unharmed and took a lesson with me: Be grateful for what you have but don’t ever assume it’s the end of the line.

Being surrounded by family and friends who are in jobs that are soulless and devoid of any feeling of a higher purpose, on top of paying barely enough to make it worth showing up every day, gives contrast to my own life and blunts the effects of my screw this! days. The workplace headaches I deal with are mild by comparison, and at least at the end of it all I receive a decent paycheck for my hassles. There may be something better, somewhere, but there is also something worse. Being far from the bottom is more important than being close to the top.

I used to have a coworker who was technically competent but by a very large margin had absolutely the worst attitude of anyone I’ve ever worked with. He could not go five minutes without prattling about how unfairly he was treated, had a lame excuse for everything, constantly argued with the boss, thought the whole company was plotting against him, blah, blah, blah. I spent a year trying to be his buddy: Reaching out, having man-to-man talks, pushing him towards a better path. It was a complete waste of my effort. He was officially fired for absenteeism, but the real deal was that management and pretty much everyone else, including me, was far beyond fed up with the pouting crybaby. Your approach to your job has more influence over your career path than everything else combined. Skills can be learned but attitude can only come from within.

No one should allow their career success to be defined solely by how many promotions and raises they can collect before they retire. It’s more meaningful and less stressful to show up every morning believing that every day is a good day, but some days will not be as good as others. I am, on the whole, a happy employee. I flatly refuse to let myself become the guy who bitches about everything. When I reach a point where I don’t feel I can go any further in the job I have, the time to move on will become self-evident.

Please Check Out The New Site Features.

By: Chris Warren

On the upper bar menu you’ll see two new options I hope will add value to your experience on Twenty First Summer.

Links and Resources will have links to external websites that I have personally checked out and vetted. I fully support the causes and topics these websites represent and think they deserve your attention. The list will be edited & updated as needed. If you know of a website that might fit in, send a tip via my contact page.  I’ll look into it and add it to the list  if it checks out. I will not link to anything I do not sincerely believe in.

Product Reviews are exactly as the name implies: Honest, unbiased opinions of products and services I have actually used myself. Right now there is only one entry but more reviews will be added as time allows.

Also, if you are a member of any online forums, social media pages, or groups that might like the content on Twenty First Summer, please ask them to link here and/or follow my blog. It would really mean a lot to me!

In the almost ten months since Twenty First Summer launched, there has been slow but encouraging site traffic and audience growth. Thank you very much to everyone who has supported me and given me a reason to keep doing this. I’m trying to do something meaningful here and am heartened by the response.

Keep it Thoughtful, Positive, and Relevant!




Graduation Completes The Circle.

By: Chris Warren

Almost every commencement address has the same basic theme: You (graduates) are bright and energetic and will change the world. You have vast opportunities; all you need to do is go and get them. Work hard, get good grades, and success will be yours! The theme is trite and shopworn, but since most of us will hear it only once or twice and at a time when we are excited about completing a big life achievement, no one really knows or cares that it’s been recycled every year for generations.

In fairness to all the cliché artists who are recruited to deliver these hand-me-down nuggets of wisdom, for the last seven decades or so the advice was accurate. It really was true that hard work and serious study was an express ticket to the good life. If a solid job and home ownership is the “American dream,” then a good education is its mother.

It may be for the better that I haven’t been asked to give a graduation speech, because I do not think I could bring myself to stand in front of impressionable young people and feed them a heap o’crap about how hard work and dedication will see them through. The old perennial platitudes are broken. A weak economy and languishing morals means many opportunities that used to be there are gone. There are people with Master’s degrees working at Taco Bell. Where is the big payoff for all their sweat? The world for young people, in a word, sucks.

But this is the Thoughtful, Positive, Relevant blog, so for my hypothetical speech I am determined to come up with something that is affirming, uplifting, and truthful. I won’t be placed in a position where in order to be the best graduation speaker ever I’d also have to be the best liar. It’s very unkind to piss on the hopes and dreams of young people at such a meaningful moment in their life; it’s also wrong to tell a complete lie in deference to their big day. I think I’ve found a way around this untenable situation.

To the Class of 2014:

For your entire lives you have been taught that brains and sweat will take you far. That is still true, except now you will need more brains and more sweat than anyone who came before you to get what used to be considered a standard middle class existence. The average will need to become stronger, and the strong will need to become superlative. The weak are doomed, but not because of the new way the world works. The weak are and always have been doomed no matter what state the world is in. That may be the only thing that never changes.

The fact that you are here at this time and place proves you are not weak. The weak have already quit and left this group. So the question now is not “who among you are weak?” but, “how strong are you?”

Strong people know the difference between confidence and arrogance: The strong know what they are capable of and do not need constant praise. Weak people must always be the topic of conversation, making sure everyone knows they are the smartest person in the room (even if they aren’t).  Strong people know they might be the smartest person in the room, but conduct themselves with a subtle touch of class that needs no big pronouncement and lets the room figure out on their own who is the smartest. Weak people brag about themselves; strong people quietly step aside and let others do the bragging for them.

Strong people are kind even to those who do not deserve it: This might be the hardest part of being a strong person. Being nice to those who are nice to us is easy, even pleasurable. It’s a much different matter when dealing with someone who would be in a lot of trouble if instant karma was real. Weak people think of themselves as judge and jury of all behavior and seek revenge for every little slight committed against them. Strong people choose their battles carefully and do unto others as they would have done unto them, accepting with grace that they will often be forced by their principles to give others a better deal than they received in return.

“And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game “

-Joni Mitchell, The Circle Game


Strong people are grateful for where they came from: No one was born knowing everything, and almost no one succeeds as a solo act. Every one of us was helped and guided by others. Weak people assure their own failure by thinking they can do everything themselves. Strong people succeed because they humbly accept help from those who love and care about them and are going to invest heart and soul into steering them away from failure. There is no greater feeling than having someone behind you and believing in you. Knowing they are loved is the greatest trait of strong people.

There is still much to be hopeful for among all the sadness in the world. New graduates are a clean slate, not yet jaded by the experiences of life. Every new graduation class is God’s way of telling humanity, “This is your do-over. Let these people run the place.” As long the Almighty keeps blessing us with fresh graduates every spring as reliably as blooming flowers, there will always be a possibility that things will get better. That brings me to my last point:

Strong people are grateful for where they are going. We should not overlook that gratitude is a two way street. If graduates are expected be thankful for the wisdom of those who helped them, we older folks also need to thank the young for the bright hope that they will do better than their elders. Weak people believe they will always be ageless and relevant. Strong people know the day will come when their moment in the sun and way of doing things will be over. It will be time for the circle to complete and let the future go to the next generation. We can only pray that our love for them mattered.

(photo credit: http://wholles.com)