The title of this commentary is probably misleading. Life is clearly not getting better for many people, although I think a large majority of folks in the United States continue to enjoy a high standard of living and an extraordinary quality of life. I think it’s even fair to point out that globally more people are living more prosperous and productive lives than at any previous point in human history. It’s easy to forget these facts, particularly during an election year. I have consequently decided to develop one of my periodic lists of blessings I need to count.
Greg Byrne and I became conscious of a relatively new blessing while discussing dogs earlier this week. The conversation began with the apparently incurable problem of barking dogs but moved to a subject where vast improvement has quietly taken place in recent years. Neither of us could remember the last time we ran over dog droppings while mowing our lawns. When we were youngsters–many, many years ago–it was nearly impossible to mow a lawn without the fragrance of “eau de merde chien,” usually emanating from your shoe, accompanying your efforts. I think we should all be grateful for the developing ethos surrounding dog droppings and the increasing availability of the requisite plastic bags. The City of Albany is doing its part by providing bags at no charge in our parks.
My son reminded me of a great new feature of modern life a few nights ago when he told me the story of how one of his old girlfriends attempted to contact him through his wife’s Facebook page. It is so easy to find old friends these days that you never know who you are going to hear from next. Admittedly, this may not always be a blessing, but it can be a source of amusement to a father still looking for revenge from his son’s teenage years.
The Oregon Ducks are, for now at least, the fourth best college football team in the nation. A few years ago, they finished the season at number two. When I was growing up, I’m not sure the Ducks were the fourth best college team in Oregon. Even the Beavers have risen to a level of respectability that would have been hard to imagine a few years ago. I think OS still holds the NCAA record for most consecutive losing seasons, although I would certainly be the last person to publicize that fact. The recent success of Oregon’s universities is also reflected in the appearance of their campuses and their new facilities.
My personal list of blessings is really too long to include in a blog posting; so I will only provide a brief sample. I have 11 healthy grandchildren, great children and children-in-law, a wife who is better in every way than her husband but lacking the discernment to realize it, great health, many wonderful friends, extraordinary colleagues at work, a challenging and rewarding job, a nice home that will be paid for when I’m 86, plus enough mysteries to unravel to keep life interesting. Earlier in my life I had many fewer blessings than I do now. I’m glad I didn’t give up when things seemed really bad.