In thinking about a topic for today’s essay I found myself rummaging through ideas from the past — the start of the school year, baseball, politics, etc. — and nothing seemed satisfactory. Here we are 15 months before the election, so I think I will keep my powder dry in terms of political discussions. Suffice to note that, despite ridiculously gloomy warnings from the left, the world has not succumbed to nuclear Armageddon, the bottom has not dropped out of the economy (quite the opposite, in fact), and our allies have not decided to create a new alliance system absent America despite President Trump’s antagonisms. Overall, all is well, I think. Many of us paid more in taxes under President Trump, but given the fact that the current leading candidates for the Democratic nomination make former President Obama look like a Rockefeller Republican, things could be much worse. If you are enamored of Ms. Warren’s or Mr. Sanders’ (the entire Democratic field, basically) declarations about making “the rich” pay for all of the free stuff they are promising, I would suggest you examine who they are talking about when they discuss “the rich.” You may be surprised to find out that you have met “the rich” and they are you! The “blue wave” of 2018 — which was, of course, far less impressive than Republican gains during Obama’s first midterm in 2010 — have made the Democrats think that this is their opportunity to impose their more leftist ideas on America. I think they are wrong, and I think nominating a champion of those ideas as their standard-bearer will ensure President Trump’s re-election. We shall see; there’s a long way to go.
One thing other than the above that I have been thinking about a lot lately is what I am going to do with the next chapter of my life. As I have written before, I taught international politics at a state university in New York for 15 years before moving down here to Maryland. (I quit my job right before the Great Recession when I got remarried. Timing is everything!) After working at the Home Depot (that was a trip!) and tutoring kids preparing to take the SAT, I was fortunate enough to get hired as a PE teacher in Montgomery County. I am very thankful for the opportunity and have thoroughly enjoyed my time teaching the little ones. Nevertheless, we have only one shot at life (I think) on Earth, and I grow restless. I have always been a rather peripatetic soul, and I have always thought about doing so many other things. As I approach the last 15 to 20 years of my working life (God willing), I think about other foci.
The ministry has always held an appeal to me, but
being the sinner I am, I often question whether I am “good” enough to help others. For example, I’ve thought a lot lately about the spate of shootings we’ve had recently, and I wonder at the absence of voices who are trying to understand the feelings of anomie and isolation these murderers must feel. After 9/11, my more liberal friends in academia told me it was important that we understand the motivations of the 23 upper-middle-class jihadists that flew the planes into our buildings and understand why they did what they did. Some even blamed America for the attacks, claiming that it was “blowback,” but I dismissed that blatant blaming of the victim as the same type of logic that blames a young woman who has been sexually assaulted for the clothes she wears — each was, and is, equally reprehensible. Who on the left today is showing that trademark empathy and trying to understand the motivations of those who engage in such heinous acts? I don’t hear them. Chalking everything up to “white nationalism” seems almost pre-packaged (the left has been talking about this since 1968 and now’s their chance to use it?) and overly simplistic — even for the left! I realize that we are all sinners and that wondering if I am good enough for the ministry is probably the wrong question to be asking, but that is just one of many signs of my lack of spiritual maturity. The other is the more I get involved in church work — the day-to-day running of our church — the farther away I feel from Christ’s grace. That’s a problem.
I’ve thought a lot about writing — either a children’s book or historical fiction. Both hold tremendous appeal to me but does anyone other than me buy books anymore? I don’t know.
I’ve also thought about moving to a beach community — somewhere in the Caribbean, preferably — and opening a cafe. I’m from Jersey originally, and diner food is in my blood! I’d open at 5 a.m. and close by 2 p.m. so I could get a nap in and hit the beach. I couldn’t imagine a better life.
With unemployment at its lowest since World War II and wages rising for everyone in America for the first time since the mid-1960s, I can’t imagine a better time to be thinking about a career change. I’m excited! If you are not happy in your life, I encourage you to change while the opportunity is still here. Good economic times don’t last forever. We should do what we can to ensure that they don’t end prematurely and take advantage of them while they last.
I know that as long as I have my family and my dogs (we got a new dog for Mother’s Day! My wife wanted a non-shedding lap dog, so we got a Bichon Frise/mini poodle mix named Daisy. She is 11 pounds of love and pep, and she and our 4-year-old Brittany, Ralphie, get along marvelously!) and with God’s help, I will find my way and the result will be just fine. I have found through my life that if I don’t focus wholly on what I want but try to think how I can help; things have always worked out splendidly. I am confident they will continue to do so. Be optimistic, my friends. Our best days lie ahead.
David E. Staveley, Ph.D., writes from Monrovia, where he gets up early to go out with the dogs, clean up after his little ones and try to get in some yardwork before the weather turns. He can be reached at email@example.com.