Looking Back at the Year With a Smile

by on March 22, 2021 · 1 comment

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

Someone, unknown, once wrote “When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.“

I can’t help but say amen to that just from having, the other day, read my journal about the past year and noticing how in between my comments about the enormous loss of human lives and a dangerous looney-ass president’.’ string of improvised lies, and wide political divides, and the like, there were so many entries that literally made me smile.

Especially one about me swatting a pesky fly just to see him die, borrowing from a Johnny Cash line.

And I sure smiled a lot at what I wrote about visiting Maria’s family and friends in San Antonio, home of the Alamo, and in Jalapa, Cuernavaca, Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo in the beautiful country of Mexico.

I couldn’t help but smile as my words made me recall how I, after being such a recluse, finally dared to go out during the pandemic and wined and dined and laughed outdoors with dear friends, wearing masks and keeping a distance.

So many smiles from being reminded of when a neighbor’s cat snuggled up to me as I was reading in the sun on my patio one day; of when I got to be with some of my kids and their kids on another day; of when the Lakers put the Heat away in game six and became champs of the NBA and the San Diego Padres showed that they can really play; of when I listened to generous applause for what I had to say in my hometown for MLK Day.

I broke into smiles from just reading how I felt being recognized, being selected for the Bayard Rustin (a civil rights hero of mine) Achievement Award from the LGBTQ community; being told that I would be inducted into the Basketball Ring of Honor at my alma mater, my beloved U of A.

Almost on each page there was something that made me grin, pleasant reminders of a nice talk I had about peace education with a friend and of a conversation I had with Arizona athletes about what they’re doing there in the areas of diversity and inclusion and another I had with women, who just happened to be White, about Isabel Wilkerson’s book, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” an epic story about the “Great Migration” of Black people leaving the south heading in other directions, chasing an elusive American Dream – a discussion with two groups of young people about Cesar Chavez, teaching them “Cesar Chavez Was a Friend of Mine,” a song I’d written in a spirit of love and fun.

I must have had a big smile on my face when in September I wrote:

34 more days
to the election.
Hope we’re heading
in the right direction.

And were we ever, in some form, because Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won and I ended the year with this little poem:

Life is one step at a time.
Day after day.
Inch by inch.
Come what may.

And it helps us navigate our lives, I think, when we understand that there are, perhaps, as has been suggested, way more reasons to smile than to cry.

I, surely, for one, smiled a lot more in 2020 than I had realized.

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Thomas Gayton March 26, 2021 at 10:01 pm



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