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Smallwood-Mongaup Valley

December 24, 2021

James Loney
Posted 12/24/21

Make your Bed. Stand in the Snow

For me and those I hold most dear around me, 2021 has been a year of storms and sunshine, heatwaves and snow. Happiness this year has been a struggle. If a Syrian …

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Smallwood-Mongaup Valley

December 24, 2021

Posted

Make your Bed. Stand in the Snow

For me and those I hold most dear around me, 2021 has been a year of storms and sunshine, heatwaves and snow. Happiness this year has been a struggle. If a Syrian or Afghani toddler is standing knee deep in snow on the Polish border tonight between two opposing armies, who of us can conscionably say we are entirely happy? The world is so much with us in 2021.

Still, we have life.

My father, William “Bill” Loney, was a Canadian World War II airman-become-banker with a grade eight education. Bill parked a copy of Norman Vincent Peale’s “THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING” in our family bathroom when Bob and I were kids. No one using the facilities could avoid the book, shower-splotched, dog-eared, a wobbling yellowed 1971 paperback in its 26th printing. Peale’s book became a family Bible, and as a boy I read it every day. Some of its precepts—choose to be happy!--ring true blue to me to this day and live in my marrow. And yet how North American. The image of the four-year old girl standing in the snow on the Polish border for hours while colonels and statesmen dicker over her life and death will not go away.

December 2021: a time of sleet and sickness, fog and sallow sunshine. Every day a struggle between fear and optimism, joy and anger. December puts you through all of the emotions you experience while wondering if you should get out of bed in the morning. Yes it does. I think of my blessed Dad, of Vincent Peale, of a man I met on YouTube earlier this year: US Navy Admiral William H. McRaven. McRaven, during a 2014 commencement speech at the University of Austin, talks about choosing agency vs. victimhood. “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another,” he says. “By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Make your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. If, by chance, you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made. That YOU made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better."

The little girl in the snow doesn’t really have a bed to make. What to do, as conscious beings as a New precarious Year approaches? My blessed Dad and Peale say: get up, make your bed, do the best you can. Tuck in those truculent corners and fluff that pillow. Prepare yourself for the coming day when you, too, stand in the snow. That day is surely coming. Reader, be well and flourish, be exceedingly kind and generous to total strangers who look different than you do. See you in the Great Beyond of 2022.

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