Native Writes: Look on the bright side

The time has come for all of us to give thanks. Despite all the political wrangling, bereavement and general malaise, there is always something to be thankful for.

Nothing is predictable but change and none of us knows what will happen tomorrow, no matter how we pull the reins and tweak the edges in an effort to guide life’s path.

Newspaper work brings hundreds of people through my life in the course of each year, with so many stories, good and bad.

I am grateful that some of the co-workers from years past remain in touch. It’s been an interesting ride, these past 50 years, and some have gone into other professions, excelling there. That’s good. One of them became an attorney and I truly believe what she learned in the smoky newsroom helped her a lot.

Those were the days when people could smoke indoors and a low cloud of cigar, cigarette and pipe smoke hovered over all our desks.

It was a blessing when smoking was banned in the newsroom, but it changed the way the profession was portrayed on film, as TV journalists weren’t coughing up their lungs typing out a story and sipping something on the rocks.

Not even Ed Asner. Clark Kent was too busy looking for a vacant phone booth to light up. No reporter was invincible.

Someone asked me recently what I would say was the biggest story I ever covered. I couldn’t think of just one. Each is important.

And that importance is a blessing in disguise. Good or bad, experience is valuable.

I mentioned to some friends that I am working on a book covering the years I have spent in journalism since September 1967 and suggestions abounded.

Some things wouldn’t fit anyway. I wasn’t in journalism when JFK was killed and the same was true of the killing of his brother, Bobby.

I think of those deaths and that of Martin Luther King, Jr. and see good messages for today’s people, despite the fact that their down sides are being brought up again in the debate over whose life matters.

I recall the Reagan years, the Nixon years, the Bushes, Obama and more and still come to the same conclusion: every life matters and none should be taken away in frivolous anger.

World War II ended about the same time my life began and I didn’t learn about Hiroshima and Nagasaki until I was about 10 years old. At least, that’s when the details sank in.

Living in Santa Fe, N.M. when my eldest son was born in 1962, I heard many people older than myself talk about the bomb trials and other experiments at White Sands and I just shrugged the stories off. They didn’t fit my late teen lifestyle.

Diapers were nastier than nukes.

In fact, disposable diapers didn’t appear until after my youngest son was toilet trained.

There’s something to be grateful for in this, as well. By the time my grandchildren were born, disposable diapers were in vogue and cotton diapers were hard to find.

Old cotton diapers made great cleaning cloths.

Each day, someone will tell me something that should make my aging heart shake and I reply that it’s bad, I can’t do anything about it and I’m still alive.

One of the naysayers said I am “so optimistic.”

Getting one’s psychological bottom kicked gives birth to a form of optimism. I think the cynics call it “gallows humor.” I am good at that, but the high side is that every rough spot has a shiny side if one looks for it.

Why spend millions building nuclear warheads and have every parent of an infant and toddler bag up the diapers and send them to a stockpile, say at White Sands, then load them in planes and drop them on the “enemy.”

Just make him wish he were dead.