On Being Grateful and Jackson, Mississippi

I step off the century old ride feeling like I've just been in a car wreck. My friend Sebastian loses his cell phone during the ride.
We make an attempt to recover it.

We cut back through the line of thrill seekers waiting to defy death on the rickety wooden rollercoaster and inspect the carriages as they unload their passengers.


Sebastian fills out his name in a notebook that contains the day's entries of lost items. He takes it with good humor as he notes the names that fill four pages, detailing lost wallets, keys, cell phones, and sunglasses.

I buy him a beer. (I feel bad over the whole incident because I am the last fateful caller. Somehow things may have been different if I do not make that call.)

But, it is just a phone. As we walk to the Coney Island subway stop, we hike up the stairs and have a brief conversation before parting ways, he to the F train and I to the Q. We both agree on one thing; it’s just a thing.

I mention religion. I don't know what I believe, but I believe in religion, it's good for you.

I've read a few articles related to happiness recently. Religion is a key conduit to happiness. It brings people together, enables a sense of community, and most importantly in my mind, teaches people to be grateful for what they have.

One of my favorite gospel groups is The Jackson Southernaires of Jackson, Mississippi. In their 1970's heyday, their afros sweat with electrified soul. I reserve a gospel compilation from the Mount Vernon library called Malaco's Greatest Hits, Malaco is a gospel record label from Jackson.

One line in particular eclipses the rest of the material. "I complained that I had no shoes, but then I met a man that had no feet to use. Lord, I'm blessed. I'm so blessed."

Though it’s not a line worthy of Wallace Stevens, it does speak of a human truth we can all understand.

Be grateful for what you've got.

Year after year, a 500-pound man presides over the lever that sent the Cyclone careening on its way. His heft spills over his stool like an elephant on a postage stamp.

He pulls the lever like he would be there forever.

He is missing yesterday. The reason is probably much more serious than a lost cell phone.


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