Painted by Edie Olson

There are numerous times I am thankful because of the war:

When I step into Costco and see the abundance of everything—stuff and more stuff—fresh food instead of canned C rations, wine and cool drinks instead of dirty lukewarm water from a rice paddy.

When I hear the rain falling on the roof on a dark night and I’m lying in a dry bed with a light switch close at hand to banish the darkness.

When I reach into the drawer and get a clean dry pair of socks to put on instead of digging through my rucksack to find a dirty pair that hasn’t dried out yet.

When I’m hiking back in the mountains or crossing a shallow stream and feel peaceful instead of alert and tense.

When I feel freedom and liberty instead of deadly duty, pushing me on. (I’ve almost stopped jumping when there’s an unexpected loud noise.)

It’s easy to get busy and take these things for granted, but when the day slows down or I’m about to doze off for the night, my heart snuggles up to these blessings as my mind slips back to when I didn’t have them.

The ability to appreciate often comes from tough times but those tough times can pay high dividends when we dig the good stuff from them.