Opinion: Finding Meaning

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Seeing the Good

We’re in the season of light and joy that builds up to Christmas, my favorite time of year. It begins with Thanksgiving when we pause to remember our blessings. After dinner, it’s our tradition to go around the table, each sharing the good things of the year. Sometimes it’s met with groans: personal sharing can be hard for guys. But it always brings a sweet spirit and the savoring of good memories gives them permanence, and meaning. In the spirit of seeing the good, may I share three brief stories of gratitude?

I’m grateful to The Laguna Beach Independent for carrying this column the last four years. “Finding Meaning” covers the intangibles that make life worth living, especially faith. In my observation, religion is difficult for the news media to cover. News is what just happened; faith is “the substance of things hoped for.” Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, once acknowledged this difficulty in a rare confession: “We don’t get religion. We don’t get the role of religion in people’s lives. And I think we can do much, much better.” It’s a rare newspaper that covers religion well but I believe Laguna’s “Indy” is getting it done.

Second, I’m grateful for the human instinct to make time for kind acts amidst the hustle and bustle of life. As a Laguna example, consider the thousands of sack lunches prepared over the years for our homeless. At the personal level, here’s one from my youth. As a schoolboy, I found the classroom boring—this was before ADHD had a name—I was restless, indifferent to assignments, even disruptive. But there were a few teachers who helped, like Mr. Goodrich in senior English. He would occasionally read my writing to the class, including my term paper on English author Daniel Defoe, which he gave an A+. I only got one of those but it was enough. He has passed, but I honor him—and all caring teachers—by remembering his kind encouragement.

As prelude to my third story, have you ever found it hard to keep a positive balance of good in your life? We need to be aware of the bad that happens, it’s part of life. But we need a positive balance of good over bad lest we become discouraged or depressed. The Beautiful Wife keeps a gratitude journal when she feels the need. She finds it not only helps her to remember, but also builds the ability to see good, which turned out to be important for me.

I was an engineering student during our courtship years, complete with the requisite slide rule. My car was a Studebaker Lark, dependable and affordable. Working my way through school, I was, well, cheap. What saved the day for me was her ability to detect enough goodness to take a chance on a guy bereft of glam. Seeing the good in life—there’s meaning in that.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach”. Email: [email protected]

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