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It seems like in the world today many people are dissatisfied. They don't like their job, their spouse, their material possessions, their neighbors, their coworkers…the list goes on and on.

On the one hand, I can understand all of the dissatisfaction. On the other hand, maybe I've lived long enough to realize the transient nature of life. Let's take wealth. There was a time where my parents could have sold their retail businesses and never had to worry about money again. They didn't sell them and ended up losing them in the recession of the early 1980's. For some reason, I have never really thought about the money our family "lost". We did OK and we didn't lack for shelter, food, clothes, or much of anything. We passed through a tough season. My parents were separated for a time, but they got back together. I felt lucky they stayed together. The separation was temporary.

I lost my Dad in 2000. He was 56. It happened almost before my eyes. One minute my wife and I were visiting with Dad, Mom, an uncle and his friend, and the next moment Dad was in trouble. By in trouble, I mean he was – we thought- having an angina attack. It had happened before and, when it did, he usually liked to be alone with Mom. I guess it wasn't something he wanted the rest of us to see. So, Dad and Mom went in the house, while the rest of us stayed outside. Within moments, Mom was calling me saying Dad was in trouble. I ran into the house, but it was already too late. He had passed away sitting in his favorite chair. We tried to resuscitate him, but it wasn't to be. Life is transient. Your loved ones pass on. Dad had been sick with diabetes, heart problems and mini-strokes for a long time. We always worried he would die alone. Instead, he died with Mom sitting in his favorite chair. It was peaceful, except for our effort to save him. I'm grateful I was there at the end of Dad's life. I almost didn't go to visit him that day. I came within seconds of turning to go home, but changed my mind at the last moment. So instead of guilt, I have the knowledge of what happened, and the security that it was his time to go.

Despite the things we go through, there are always people who have it worse. When I was in the Army Reserve, I deployed to Bosnia. Our camp was directly between the Serbian and the Muslim parts of Bosnia. The Serbs and Muslims in that part of the world have been fighting and killing each other for hundreds of years. Ironically, the Serbs are some of the nicest, most generous people you could hope to meet. They will give you their last drink or last bite to eat. At the same time, I always felt like they might turn on us at any moment given the opportunity. One of my first experiences in Bosnia, was meeting a radio station manager in Zvornik. He was a Serb, and during our first meeting, in an effort – I believe – to intimidate or shock us he pulled out a picture of a man (he said it was his uncle) with his head half blown off. Now I don't know if it was true or not, but it certainly was horrible. Bosnia suffered through all kinds of atrocities during their civil war. At one point in the war, the Serbs slaughtered thousands of Muslims in Srebrenica. While I was there (years later, not during the civil war) the Serbs were still trying to cover their tracks by digging up and moving the bodies of those they killed. Toward the end of my deployment, I was able to see Sarajevo. The city was pockmarked with bullet holes. I even saw the spot where Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinated, triggering the First World War. So, I'm grateful to live in the United States now. We have had our problems, and will have problems, but they pale in comparison to what many have suffered.

It's good to keep things in perspective. That isn't the same as belittling someone else's suffering or not acknowledging dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction has its place and keeps us from becoming too complacent. But, sometimes it's just good to sit down, relax, and be grateful for the things you have, and for all of the wonderful people – both past and present – in your life. I know I'm grateful.

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