Tag Rules The World

A Different Kind of Thanks Paul's annual rant digs deeper.
by Paul Vee

Dear readers, I love you all. Really, I do. Well, most of you. This is my third Thanksgiving rant for Tag and I hope that Tag and I survive long enough for me to write many, many more. You'll never know how much writing this piece is saving my ass this year. Let me tell you briefly, then we'll move on to Thanksgiving. 

This has been an interesting year. I rang it in playing a New Year's gig at a local club with a reggae band, then caught a plane the next morning for Phoenix and a crazy RV trip back home with some friends. All good fun, but the band broke up and I'm still paying for the trip. 


I traveled a lot in The Great American West this year, and that is always a good thing.  It's really the closest thing to a spiritual enema. That doesn't sound like a good thing, does it? It IS good, I assure you. I slept on the ground in the desert under the stars, soaked in primitive hot springs, hurtled down empty roads and spoke to strange old guys at lonely gas stations. On my fortieth birthday, I soaked in the rain in the hot currents of the Boiling River, just outside of Yellowstone National Park. I'll never forget it. 

This has also been a sad and difficult year, one of the saddest actually. My mom died not too long ago. My brother, my father and I are still grieving. Suddenly, our small family is even smaller. This is our first Thanksgiving without her. The last few were kind of bittersweet. My brother couldn't show up and it was just me and my two parents. I would see them for a few hours, then run back home to my beloved cat and a few friends. Or I would go to my local AA meeting and watch the people drift into the room with terrible stories of having survived the day's dysfunctional family events. 

My brother, his wife and I will eat with my father this year for Thanksgiving. We'll get together and remember, we'll give thanks, and we'll probably get a bit sad. No one will cook any turkey. My father's the only one of us who eats meat and I'm planning to buy him a deluxe dinner from an upscale market in my neighborhood, even though he has graciously told us he couldn't care less about food and would be "fine with tofu hot dogs." This is not a piece about my mom, though. But this is my yearly Thanksgiving rant and her death is coloring my holiday this year, so thanks for bearing with me. 

Anyway, on to the heart of the matter. What do I have to give thanks for? Well, this forum in Tag, for one thing. I haven't written much in the last month or two. I've just been mourning and moping and taking strange photos around the city. So this sorry piece is helping stir me from my torpor. For that I'm profoundly grateful. 

I'm grateful for my mom, for the love she gave me and for teaching me about unconditional love and generosity, for showing me that the more you give in this life, the more you receive. I'm grateful for my father and my brother. I'm grateful for my friends. I'm grateful for anyone who's ever written a word that's made me think or made me smile or frown. I'm grateful for the Jeep Corporation, for producing some fine vehicles which have taken me to some spectacular places. I'm grateful for Nikon Camera, for making stuff that I can drool over, but rarely afford. I'm grateful for the National Park System and for the American Southwest. I'm grateful for the mighty, filthy, teeming cities of the Northeast. I'm grateful for tofu. I'm grateful for people who speak their mind, whether I agree with them or not. 

So what if the polar ice cap is melting and millions of Pacific Islanders are going to be flooded out of their homes in the coming decades? Who gives a shit if pre-pubescent boys on speed are killing their parents in Liberia? If Slobo is still on the loose in Kosovo? If Ebola is still alive and well in Africa? So what if our next president is an alcoholic draft-dodger who has ruined every business he's touched and still hasn't mastered the English language? So what if people don't appreciate how good this good economy has been for so many years? Big deal if industrial livestock factories are ruining local ecosystems. Is it really that bad that we're picking up the tab for corporate welfare and welfare ranching? And if Big Timber finally finishes the job and cuts down the last remaining old-growth forest we have, is that really such a terrible thing?

Yeah, it looks like we've still got stuff to do. In fact, our job has just begun, but that doesn't mean we can't take a minute to be thankful for what we've got. We've got the opportunity to rise above our narcissistic, self-serving selves and try to leave a better world than the one we came into. We have the chance to be kind to strangers and tolerant of people we absolutely hate, even the ones who blast their car stereos at full volume on my block at 3 a.m. We can silently murmur our thanks for the little things that make life livable, like Twinkies, tea and TAG.

And we can - as always on Thanksgiving - bow our heads and observe a moment of silence for all the poor turkeys who give their lives so that Americans can get just a bit fatter.
Tag Rules The World

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