I hope that we don’ return to the unsettling Cold War world, with its doomsday clocks and periodic crises that could blow up into catastrophic confrontation. I hope we also aren’t so smug, however, that we confidently conclude that it just can’t happen. Such conclusions are wishful thinking. There are lots of people out there with lots of territorial ambitions who are willing to run stupid risks to try to achieve them, and we need to recognize that reality and deal with it.
In my travels, I regularly park in a downtown Cleveland garage. It’s one of those somewhat old-fashioned garages where you pay an attendant on your way out.
The attendant’s booth is usually staffed by an African-American woman who appears to be in her 40s. I always say hello and ask her how she’s doing as I pull up, and she always — always — responds with a cheerful “I’m blessed” and a smile. You can tell that she absolutely means it, too. Then she wishes me a good day, and I drive on — always feeling better, and uplifted, by our interaction.
Her short phrase and attitude has really stuck with me. I am not a religious person, but there obviously is something about this woman’s faith that allows her to be a radiating source of infectious positivity. Some people might look at her job and wonder whether working in a parking garage is all that great a blessing, but I don’t. I don’t know the woman’s personal circumstances, but she’s got a job and is physically able to do that job, and she is happy about that. Viewed from that perspective, she is blessed, and she’s not shy about telling people so.
I’m not saying that the power of positive thinking will turn your life into a beautiful dream, but I do think perspective matters. Often, people can choose to be positive or negative about their lives, and their choices in that regard have consequences. If I’m offered a choice about interacting with someone who is a downer or someone who is upbeat, I’ll take the person who says “I’m blessed,” and means it, every time.