Gratitude Envy

This Is Very Futuristic!

Last week I had furnace problems, so I called the guy who has been fixing my furnace for several years now. Originally from Bosnia, he came to this country in the ’90s during the break-up of Yugoslavia, which brought on the civil war between the Bosnian Serbs and Croats. That war is often judged to be the most devastating conflict in Europe since World War II because of the horrific war crimes and ethnic cleansing. During that time 100,000 people died and between 20,000 and 50,000 women were raped.

Sanel arrived in the United States with $50 in his pocket and no knowledge of English. He now speaks our language fluently (with a slight, but charming, accent), is happily married, has a young son, and owns his own business with four employees. The way I found Sanel was through his instructor who recommended him as the best HVAC student he has ever supervised. I can vouch for that! But more important is that Sanel radiates gratitude for all that he has. Every time I see him he tells me with the same amount of fervor, “America is the best country in the world!” This time he made sure I understood that he not only expresses his gratitude daily, but that he makes conscious choices on how to give back. For example, every two years he buys a new car to support the economy. He also patronizes local small businesses over large chains.

Household management is one of my least favorite tasks, and yet I continue to meet some of the most amazing, hard-working, loving people when I find myself in this role. Quirky and interesting, too, with personal stories that constantly inspire. At first glance this appears ironic–hating the task and then always finding it enlightening, you know–but then I had another thought: perhaps it’s teleological in that, like writing, it is pulling in my future.

In the novel that I wrote and am still trying to get published, called ‘The Potluck,’ my character Phil Ossifer, who, ironically (smirk), is a doctor of philosophy, informs Renee about teleology:

“Teleology does not view the world in linear fashion. The flow of time is not restricted to past-leads-to-present-leads-to-future. Cause and effect are not the operative mechanisms of a teleological world. The future defines the past and present just as much as the past and present define the future.”

“It’s a theory, then.” Renee responded.

“An alternative way of viewing the world, yes. Like synchronicity, the teleological perspective is about meaning, not intractable laws of modern science. Past, present and future have intelligence and react to events much as you and I would. The consequences are not what they are because of a physical law but because of desire, attraction. Teleology is cyclical, not linear. Every ending is tied in meaning to its so-called beginning.”

My deepest desire has always been to meet people who are changing the world, so I count myself lucky. Really lucky to know someone like Sanel and also lucky because, as my son so often points out, things like furnace problems are really only “First World” problems. I want what Sanel has, and so I will write about it until it happens. And then when I forget, it will happen over and over again until I once again re-member. (Don’t you just love that word? Re member: to bring something that has fallen apart back together again.)


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