Most days I’m thankful for my neighbor’s transmissionally challenged truck. Reliably at 6:15 each morning it roars down the road full throttle–even though it’s less than 50 feet to the stop sign. There’s a low rumbling pause and then the driver guns it toward U.S. 42. I can hear his gears shifting in the increasing distance as he motors past other neighborhoods equally in need of his alarm clock backup services.
One morning when I was up early lumbering around the coffee maker, I peeked through the blinds to watch the truck go past. I had a mental image of this noisemaker as an older black pickup truck with a few patches of rust near the cab doors, maybe a dented back tailgate and unreasonably tall tires caked with mud. To my surprise, I saw a shiny new cherry red monster truck tearing down the road like a suited politician with nothing much to say, loudly and often.
What does the roar of that engine say to him? What does it drown out?
Once my neighbor has faded off into the distance and I’m awake, I begin to enjoy the more subtle sounds of the morning. The quite hum of less outspoken vehicles starting, garage doors opening, the song of industrious birds, a moist morning breeze shaking small branches. I love the quiet sounds of early morning. It all purrs with soft expectant contentment, like the cat at my feet who knows his food bowl will soon be full.
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Most days I’m thankful to be an American. Scratch that. Every day I’m thankful to be an American. When I think of the other options, nothing strikes me as a good close second. But I’ve had some moments lately. Moments when I only hear the rumbling of discontent and hyperbole. Moments when I’m ready to believe whatever ludicrous clickbait story social media throws at me.
I need to stop. We need to stop. And listen. There are subtle voices beneath all of this. Stories of need, beauty, ingenuity, tragedy, triumph, and hope. Perhaps we needed to be woken up so we could hear them.
Don’t go back to sleep.