Is there anything to thank for?

I have a few hours to kill in this Thanksgiving Eve, while waiting in a local YMCA for my daughter’s swimming practice. It seems to be a perfect time and a perfect pause from busy daily routines to list out things that I can thank for.

Is there anything to thank for though, in this era full of confusion, in this life fully of stress, in this mind full of screaming? Is there any?!

If there is nothing else, I at least need to thank for my own parents, right? They raised me after all. They do not ask much from me knowing I am thousands miles away and they have to deal with their issues pretty much on their own. All they have hinted from time to time is a visit. Every visit has been so short though and I didn’t really get to do anything for them; but have they ever expected me to do anything for them? To them, all they wished for was a short reunion. I thank them for being so understanding, so supportive, and so loving. I am so lucky for having parents like them!

It just feels right to thank my wife next. We met in college and married in the last year of my graduate school; so we have known each other for a long, long time. But we are so different. I am rational and being proud of it; arguing every difference needs to and can be resolved in a rational and logical way. She is more emotional; feeling right is so important to her. Well, you know, this journey hasn’t been easy. But she is so loyal, she is so easy to read, never needing a second guess, she has so much love of our children, she is full of energy, she is so interested in people, she is so complementary to my shortcomings, and above all else, she is so pretty! I am so lucky to have her!

You guessed right. I want to thank my children next. It’s not easy for them to have a dad like me, always set higher expectations, always saying you can do better, always giving honest feedback for the sake of improvement, always challenge them and demand them to “do your best”. It must be exhausting to have a dad like me! But they handled all the stress “gracefully”. My daughter has been a lot more open to me since the last concert; she treats me more of her equal and be willing to receive my opinions and at the same time making her own arguments. Besides all that, she is such a self-disciplined kid. Her mom and I have never needed to worry about her school performance. Not ever! How many parents can proudly announce that? She manages herself and manages well. My son is just a sweat boy. He can now receive more complex concepts without being defensive. He just cares how you feel, so his standard for right or wrong can be subjective to other people’s feeling; but as a strength, this gives him such a sweat personality. Everyone loves him, in school, with our neighbors, among his friends. As a parent, what else can I wish for, for having such a pair of kids!

Naturally, I want to move on to my colleagues. I have been so lucky to have great bosses in all my career. My current boss is just a caring person. He sets expectations and then walks away – letting you to do your own job. He appreciates your contribution with all his sincerity. He can be tough too but not in a personal way. It’s just so easy to have a mutual trust with a person like that. But he is not anybody, he is my boss, which makes a world of difference. My own group is made of talents and diverse but respectful personalities. There are straightforward Dutch, humorous Americans, and hard working Chinese; there are 30 years of experiences and energetic young graduates too; there are extreme doers, fearless leaders, and most of all, they are all team players. I am so lucky to have them as my teammates!

Last by not the least, I want to thank my old college classmates who tolerated me in our WeChat group for the past three years. It has been quite political in the US since 2016 for the obvious reason. I am surprised for this much of newly found activism in me. I brought political topics to my classmates, often “in their faces”. I was provocative, I was argumentative, and I was self-righteous. Most of all, I was annoying. But they tolerated me and I know it. Shall I give up my activism, “be nice”, tell jokes from time to time, contribute innocent comments, but avoid hard political debates that happen on a daily basis at the national level? I don’t know. I want to talk about topics that I care about; if I can’t, I will just quit and find another platform that I can be of value, be relevant, I suppose. But that’s my own struggle. For my classmates, I can only say thank you. You didn’t ask for it but passively accept it (probably without a choice :). More than that, you don’t know how much I have learned from you via all those discussions and debates! I am so lucky to have you all!

My daughter has been in the pool for over two hours. She has been swimming since she was 2 years old, and in swim teams since 5. Sending her to swimming originally was my attempt as a physical exercise to fight against her asthma – to build up her a strong lung. Her asthma has since long gone. For that, I am greatly thankful.

Even though there is full of confusion in the current era, fully of stress in this life, full of screaming in this mind, there are just so much more to thank for. I won’t want to live in any other life. Everything is just AWESOME!

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