Wednesday, November 21, 2012


"We're here to put a dent in the universe."
-Steve Jobs

Every fourth Thursday in November the United States celebrates a holiday called “Thanksgiving.” The holiday is promoted as honoring the “First Thanksgiving,” which was a 1621 celebration of the first harvest gathered by a group of white settlers of North America (the Pilgrims) and local natives.
While the historical accuracy of our “Thanksgiving Story” may be up for debate, the importance and staying power of the holiday isn’t.
In 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."
So every year at this time, many Americans gather with family, friends and/or sports teams via television, eat copious amounts of food then pass out on the couch. Somewhere in there, many of us try to dwell, at least momentarily, on the good things in our lives.
This year, I am thankful for dents. The Free Dictionary defines a dent in this way:
1. A depression in a surface made by pressure or a blow.
2. A significant, usually diminishing effect or impression.
3. Meaningful progress; headway.
I am here today to give thanks for a dent in my universe.
Regular readers of my semi-regular blog have probably already read of my selection late in life to play the role of daddy to a little girl. It was a surprise selection, but one which I decided to take on with as much gusto as I could muster. So I padded up, grabbed a bat and strode to the crease, confident that it would be OK. After all, I’d always been pretty good with kids. How hard could it be?
Then came this little fast bowler—a three-foot-tall Courtney Walsh in a princess dress—running in, sending high speed bouncers, swinging it both ways and often knocking me flat. And leaving dents in my highly constructed life.
What kind of dents?
Well, let’s see ….
I’m a quiet guy. I like to sit and read and listen to classical music. As a writer, I have always been a big reader. Know how many books I have finished since I started this innings? One. And I don’t even remember what it was. As for the classical music, most of those CDs are now in a box in the basement.
I was a fan of foreign and/or independent films. Stuff without a lot of action and lots of talking and interesting camera angles. I am also a Brit-o-phile, and a huge fan of Last of the Summer Wine, which I collect on DVD. But now we are much too busy watching, singing and dancing along to Meet Me in St. Louis, The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins and Dora the Explorer. (Although to be fair my wife and I do set aside time each night to watch something of our own liking—and her tastes are similar to mine—and she loves Last of the Summer Wine, too!)
I was—and remain—a cricket fan. I would stay up to watch games online, or order them to watch on satellite TV. But nowadays the laptop is long dead, we don’t have satellite service and I am much more interested in giving her stuff than ordering a cricket package. But I do still get to listen online at work and a bit at night after we go to bed.
I was rather insulated from the world. I could sit and look at various issues and problems, feel a certain way about them but not get too concerned, because I had built a world specifically designed to avoid those conflicts and problems. But I have been awakened to the true importance of many issues facing our world now and in the future, because those issues will have an impact on my little girl as she grows into a woman. I really do worry and get worked up over these things now.
These may sound like negatives. But they aren’t. These dents are good. And there are more dents for which to be thankful.
Every time she laughs, or smiles, or dances with me, or runs into my arms, or calls me daddy, it puts another big dent in my universe. I can no longer imagine life without her (let alone her mommy).
Yes, the biggest dent of all is that she has slipped in under my bat and dislodged the bails of my self-importance and insularity. She has made me love her.
The biggest dent of all is in my heart.
And it feels good.
And I am thankful.

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