Being thankful for creative outlets such as technology, music

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The Thanksgiving season is upon us and before we know it, we'll be halfway through 2014. Life is like that, and experts say when we get older the calendar pages speed by even faster.

In recent weeks I have attempted to begin embracing the many things for which I am thankful… even in a year that hasn't been the easiest on many fronts.

First and foremost, everything they say about "when you have your health you have everything" is absolutely true. Cherish the concept. When things go downhill and get scary, it's easy to believe everything in life is more miserable. On the contrary: There still are bright spots, somewhere. Perhaps right under your nose.

In an earlier column I wrote about the "summer of medical adventures" we had in our family. Not something I want to repeat. Yet as the holiday season draws closer we have much about which to rejoice. Things that seemed the bleakest turned out to be not the worse cases, and situations that are chronic are manageable, thank God.

You never know exactly how all in life turns out in the long run, but there's something extra special about getting back to the light after wallowing in the darkness for a while. Yes, challenges can be real character builders, helping us focus on the Lord.

I'm blessed and thankful for faith and family and friends, and for creative opportunities in life. And I am grateful for the fact that I have not yet been totally consumed, 24/7, by technology. (BTW: When going through tough times, often the worst thing to do is more "research" online. Go to medical websites in the middle of the night and you can self-diagnose yourself into a bad state of paranoia, for example.)

This is the point in the column where my same friends and family will be laughing out loud, responding with something like this:

"Right, Larson, you're the guy who is constantly on the iPad, iPod, iPhone, laptop, Mac, Nook, tin can phones, you name it… always multi-tasking."

Guilty as charged.  But I try to keep all in perspective. While workplace pressures and competition force most of us to stay connected nearly always, I am still happy that I have the mindset to make the conscious effort to stay balanced.


Time wasters
Speaking of technology, I do think that while Americans should be thankful for all the advances and time-savers, our country is at risk of becoming No. 1 for something in an unintended area: Wasting time on the Internet. I can hear the "We're No. 1 chants" now…  but first I need to send some text messages and check email. (Told you I was guilty.)

YouTube may be the biggest time-sucker of all. It drains the life out of the daily clock. I know that there are many acclaims for the web channel where anyone breathing can post a video and become a TV star.  Experts tell us it's a big threat to traditional TV, and that's true.

We can also fritter away half the day exploring for "educational things," but more often landing on very dumb (but sometimes cute) video clips like a piano-playing cat and screaming goats. Again, I'm guilty. I have my own You Tube channel.  But it's all about priorities and I am thankful I'm still aware of this, not yet 100 percent absorbed by technological distractions.

But why do I get the sense that when the Rapture comes, too many of us will be online, letting our last earthly moments run out while being immersed in escapism.

Again I will admit I'm often caught up in all of this. So I am thankful that I still know how to break the spell of the Internet. As hard as it is, I can shut it off and get away once in a while, on to something else that expands my mind, reminding me of the things that matter most in life.


Scoring with music
Here's another bit of joy to consider each day: Music. As the Christmas season seems to arrive ever-earlier each year, I am so grateful for the melodies and lyrics that act as the soundtrack for our lives.

At the San Diego Symphony opening last month, I found myself totally "in the moment" as the world-class orchestra played some enduring classics.  There's something about compositions that have lasted for centuries that stir the soul. 

As the strings soared and spirits rose, I couldn't help but recall the Creator who gave composers the talent to make it happen. I found myself hearing familiar music in a fresh way, noticing many nuances for the first time.

It was a clear reminder of how God orchestrates opportunity, beauty and blessings in our daily lives—if we choose to hear the soundtrack. That alone provides a tremendous attitude of gratitude.


Larson is a veteran Southern California radio/television personality and media consultant. His voice is heard on KPRZ 1210AM, and his weekday talkshow airs mornings 6-9 on KCBQ 1170AM. Email: mark@marklarson.com.

Published, November 2013

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