Tag Archives: Miracles

Yes, I Believe in Miracles

This famous young man is 8 now. He's trying to save his dad. (Image by Laney Griner)

This famous young man is 8 now. He’s trying to save his dad. (Image by Laney Griner)

You can show me beheading videos and tell me the world is going to hell.

You can tell me about sex scandals and Wall Street greed and random acts of senseless violence, and throw up your hands.

I know. There’s a lot of bad out there.

But, just for a moment, please look at this other thing.

Because it’s a miracle.

In 2015, we can save people’s lives. You and me. With a keyboard.

Famous internet meme “Success Kid” was just 11 months old when his mother snapped that perfect photo of him—an image now associated with wins of all shapes, sizes and colors.

I like this one.

I like this one.

Success Kid is actually Sammy Griner. He’s 8 now.

And his dad is probably going to die from failing kidneys unless he finds a compatible kidney donor and the Jacksonville, Fla.-based family can raise enough money to pay for the expensive treatment after the surgery.

At first, Sammy’s mother Laney didn’t want to use her son as a means of raising money for Justin Griner’s cause. She wanted the focus to be on Justin. But then she considered the power of the internet, and the reach that one random photo of her son had already achieved.

Maybe it could help, she thought.

First, The Daily Dot picked up the story. Then BuzzFeed, where I saw it. The Griners launched a GoFundMe campaign with a $75,000 goal. (The drugs needed to make a body and a strange kidney work together are very expensive.)

When I first read about it 24 hours ago, the family had raised close to $20,000 of their $75,000 goal.

By the time I went to bed last night, they had nearly $70,000. Now, they have more than $83,000. And the number is climbing.

Every minute or two, someone new is offering $5 or $10 or $20 or $100.

Another stranger who wants that 8-year-old boy to keep his father for as long as possible.

It’s because people—no matter how many bad things we do and how selfish we behave—are inherently good.

The Eve of Destruction

I hear a lot of people complaining about modern times.

It’s because we used to know all of our neighbors and hang out together on front porches. There was a greater sense of community.

It’s because when you saw groups of friends out in public together they were always talking and laughing and playing, and now we see people with their eyes glued to their phones Snapchatting or tweeting or updating Facebook.

It’s because we get annoyed with all the vanity and the internet bullying and the way web stories about Kim Kardashian get infinitely more people reading them than the top story in The New York Times.

I sometimes long for the good ol’ days, too. It’s nostalgia and we all have bouts with it and wish we could go back in time in Uncle Rico’s time machine.

It’s why so many of us go through mid-life crises. Our minds want desperately to experience the good we remember from our past, or to have the chance to right some wrongs, or to take advantage of missed opportunities.

But there’s no such thing as time travel. There’s only right now.

There’s too much sex and violence on TV!

Music ain’t what it used to be!

All the kids are doing drugs and having sex!

EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE, and it’s because of progress and technology! Because everyone wants everything bigger, better, faster and stronger even though everything was already fine just as it was!

I’d like to offer an alternative theory.

As With Every Single Thing in Life, Change Brings Some Bad—But a Lot of Good, Too

In almost every instance in life, when we make a decision or major change, we are sacrificing some good thing in exchange for some other, newer good thing that hopefully we feel was worth it in the end.

When we make a change, something usually gets worse.

Everything is a trade-off.

Everyone has these phones now. So we’re distracted. We’re not present with our friends and family sometimes because we’re addicted to responding to texts and answering email and liking something in our newsfeeds.

And, sure. That made life a little worse.

But in return, we got the ability to capture photos and video of moments with those same friends and family. Of dirty cops shooting unarmed civilians and bringing them to justice. Of allowing people all over the globe to communicate—and even see one another!—in real time.

Justin and Sammy Griner. (Image by Laney Griner)

Justin and Sammy Griner. (Image by Laney Griner)

Maybe you’re not a sucker for a good father-son story like me.

It’s probably because I’m emotionally hardwired to be moved by them since I didn’t see my father very much growing up, and since I’m now living out a new father-son story with my little boy, not all that much younger than Sammy Griner.

Yesterday, I witnessed one of the world’s greatest examples of just how good and beautiful life really is.

We can lament the death of old-school journalism. Of community. Of romantic notions of yesteryear.

But in 2015, we can raise $80,000 in a day to save a man’s life because we fell in love with a photo of his son.

And just maybe, that dad gets many more years because of it.

Just maybe, a wife and mother is rewarded for the love she chooses each day.

Just maybe, Success Kid gets more time with his father.

Don’t tell me the world has gone to hell.

Don’t tell me life isn’t beautiful.

Don’t tell me that’s impossible.

Don’t tell me it’s pointless to feel hope.

Don’t tell me there are no such things as miracles.

Because I just saw one.

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How to Feel Grateful

Pi lost everything. Everything except hope. And he learned how to feel gratitude, even love, for his greatest obstacle.

Pi lost everything. Everything except hope. And he learned how to feel gratitude, even love, for what he feared the most.

I just watched Life of Pi.

Reading the book was on my to-do list. But I just never got around to it. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone interested in it, so if you haven’t read the book or watched the movie, you should go read this really fantastic blog about homeless people instead.

In Life of Pi, the protagonist loses everything.

His country. His home. His girlfriend. His family. Human companionship.

Then, he loses basic needs. Shelter. Food and water. Safety.

My favorite line in the film was: “Hunger can change everything you thought you knew about yourself.”

I don’t think we spend enough time thinking about stuff like this.

We wake up and go to work and eat food and do random activities we may or may not actually enjoy, then go to bed. Then we do it all over again the next day.

We complain about our bills. I’m still whining about those stupid couches in the living room.

We fret over the loss of our creature comforts. This actually happened: When someone asked me why I still have the iPhone 4S and never upgraded to the iPhone 5, I talked about how much I enjoy having a bunch of phone-charger cords, and how I put off upgrading to avoid “only” having one or two phone-charger cords rather than the five or six I have now. I have issues.

We whine because our good stuff isn’t good enough. I had a conversation last night with two other guys over beers about how our high-definition widescreen televisions weren’t nice enough. How we needed bigger and better ones.

People are sick. Dying. Addicted. Starving. Abused. Raped. Murdered. Wrongly accused. Impoverished. Abandoned. Homeless.

Sometimes people are several of those horrible things at the same time.

And I was drinking a $6 beer and bitching about a 53-inch HDTV I wish was nicer.

We can all use a little perspective once in a while.

Me, more than most.

We must choose to be grateful. Actively. To feel it.

We need to remind ourselves due to our natural tendency to take things and people for granted. It is one of the pitfalls of the human experience.

Ten Miracles

My favorite writer is a guy named James Altucher.

I don’t know that I think he’s the best writer. Probably not. But he’s my favorite. Because he’s the guy who taught me to be honest when I write. So honest that I’m sometimes afraid to hit “Publish.”

He claims to write down at least 10 miracles every day. The miracles aren’t necessarily Holy-Jesus-Did-You-Just-See-That!? miracles.

A few of his examples:

“At 5 a.m. this morning, I walked outside and watched the river, gray and beautiful under a rising sun. Then I saw a skunk looking at me. It was strikingly beautiful as well. Then I ran.”

“My two daughters are too young to fight in any war in Syria. They can’t even operate drones. I hope they always stay that young.”

“While I was driving and not killing anyone, a satellite from outer space beamed the song “Heart of Glass” directly into my car. This made me very happy. Finally outer space is useful.”

I don’t know if I have the time, discipline or inclination to write down 10 miracles every day like Mr. Altucher. But as an exercise in strengthening my gratitude muscle? It seems like a worthwhile endeavor.

It’s about 5 p.m. I haven’t even left my house yet today. (Bad decision!) But here are 10 miracles at work today.

  1. My heart is beating. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t plug it in. Or use a battery. But there it is. Delivering life to the rest of me. Providing the opportunity to breathe the fresh, cool air and admire the perfect blue sky and think and eat and watch a movie.
  2. I don’t feel lonely.
  3. I was invited to a party tonight.
  4. I thought about a girl today who isn’t my ex-wife. Someone I’d like to go out with.
  5. I get to feel excited about little stuff like watching football again.
  6. A bunch of little things that make writing this possible. Electricity. My computer. Wireless Internet access. The use of my hands and fingers.
  7. I don’t feel angry about my marriage failing.
  8. Life of Pi entertained AND enlightened me.
  9. I can survive several weeks on the food in my house. I won’t go hungry. And when the supply dwindles, I can afford to go to a grocery store and buy more food. What a blessing.
  10. I have you. I don’t know how many of you there are. Doesn’t matter. I have a reader. I am unbelievably grateful for you. You have no idea. It’s a miracle. You’re a miracle.

Find a reason to tell someone who matters that you’re grateful for them today.

You’ll feel good.

They’ll feel good.

And you both deserve it.

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