Be thankful for the “what didn’t happen!”
As grateful of things in life that did happen to us– births, weddings, graduations, great kids, etc. – how much are we thankful for those things that “didn’t happen?”
Think about that for a second.
Now what got me thinking about this “didn’t happen” thing is a catastrophic near miss back in January while my son and I were almost home after a 15 hour drive from New York with a truckload of recording equipment. Less than a mile from home a car in front of us stopped suddenly and, without putting on her signal light, turned sharply off the road. I jammed my brakes, veered off to side of the road before coming to a stop. Thankfully our truck did not topple over into the nearby ditch.
Right then I thought about what “didn’t happen,” what could have happened had I reached for my cell phone to take a call; or what could have happened had I been driving 10 MPG faster.
And three weeks later we were back in New York returning the equipment. I thought about what could have happened had we scheduled our return flight to Georgia a day later, a day when a huge snow storm hit the northeast resulting in hundreds of cancelled flights leaving scores of travelers stranded.
I also am truly thankful for the results of a medical exam I “didn’t get.”
You see, I spent a Friday a few years ago at my doctor’s office getting every test one could imagine – blood, PSA, colon scan, heart, you name it. Sore arms, sore behind, you name it.
Now at 9 am the following Monday, my doctor called while I was in a meeting. Hands trembling, I raced out of the conference room thinking, “Oh my God! Why is he calling me so soon? I just saw him on Friday. It can only mean that he found something seriously wrong.”
“Mr. Howard,” he started in a voice that gave no clue. “I want to share your test results.” I inhaled, deeply inhaled.
Slowly he ticked off the results of each test. I clenched my teeth awaiting the bad news. After an agonizing few minutes of medical mumbo jumbo, he finished: “Your numbers look great, so just keep up with what you’ve been doing. I’ll see you again in six months.”
GLORY HALLELUJAH… THANK….YOU…..JESUS!
Fast forward to two weekends ago during which I delivered a keynote address in my hometown in Virginia. “Folks,” I said, “be thankful of good news, the good experiences, the good kids and the good spouses. But I also exhort you to be thankful for the bad medical report “you didn’t get,” the knucklehead you didn’t marry, that crappy lemon of a car you didn’t buy.”
“Amen,” said one. “Preach it brother man,” said another.
Fast forward to last Friday while on the way to Florida driving through rural Alabama when I encountered a state trooper who had pulled over a driver and was writing him a ticket. Now with the realization of my being a black man in America nowadays, the image of black men being gunned down by cops recently, I exhaled into relief the fact that I wasn’t speeding.
Which brings me to today when I looked myself in the mirror with the uncomfortable truth that I’ve sometimes said things I wish I didn’t say. Or things that I wrote. I know now that I’ve failed to heed the words of First Lady Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high!” There are times when I went low when I should’ve gone high.
“Terry, you can never regret something you didn’t say,” offered a senior VP years ago. True, so true.
So readers, take a few minutes to reflect on those not-so-nice things you wanted to say about someone but didn’t; those bad things in life that could’ve happen to you but didn’t.
Wow, “what didn’t happen?”
Something to think about, huh?
© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer, story teller and senior associate with Diversity Wealth. He is also a member of the Cross Cultural Academy, the founder of the Global Diversity Consortium, a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, New York-based Catalyst and the American Diversity Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also see http://mystoriesonlineblog.com