New Year! New Game! (and I’m the Champion of It)

In my secret club, November has been declared “Gratitude Month,” a time when members should take extra time to count their blessings. Without wanting to sound treacly or sentimental—or ironic or sarcastic—or confused or potentially violent—let me stop that nonsense and begin again.

In my secret club, November has been declared “Gratitude Month.” I prefer to live in “Gratitude Moment,” although I fail fairly regularly. Not much of a God guy or a praying guy, I do toss up 40 to 400 prayers a day, all of the same three-word variety: Thank You, God. This prayer or chant or mantra gets transmitted unconsciously, automatically even, and even though there may be no Big Joker in the Sky who’s listening, I find it helps me live life the way I want to. These thanks are offered for lots of things and nothing at all.

I’m good at a lot of things, and crummy at even more, and probably about average at most of life’s tasks. One thing I’ve learned, though, in my nearly 60 wandering the planet, is that maintaining relationships with other human beings takes work. Living for another eight months 200 miles away from Manchester, I’ve done some work to keep in touch with friends, typically getting together with four to seven people

New Year’s Resolutions are bunk, I think, typically broken by the end of the day and almost certainly by Martin Luther King weekend. Still, a man’s reach must exceed his grasp, else what’s a heaven for, so instead of a resolution, I’ve got a game:

Two-thousand-seventeen is over, taken off life support last night at 11:59:59, its corpse immediately replaced by the screaming newborn that is 2018. To kick off this beautiful new year, I’ve invented a game, a challenge that I’m pretty sure I will be very good at, and no one else will be able to beat me. Doesn’t that sound like fun????. Get your bets in, and I’ll explain.

What do the following 13 people have in common? I’ll have to trust you on this, but I’m going to give you 30 seconds to look over the list and write your answer here:


Don Cox

Rich Ashooh

Virginia Theo-Steelman

Matt Paul

Max Paul

Greg Kunkel

Joseph Broulliette

Steve Smith

Steve Gamlin

Will Lancaster

Matt Raymond

Chris Wofford

Ed Johannen

Dan Bricker

Bob Hunt

Dianne Hathaway

Ooooooh, I’m sorry, but you lose. Even if you wrote down the correct answer (“These are 13 people who mean a lot to Keith and whom he will try to see as soon as possible in the new year”), I did it way faster, as soon as my finger typed the “y” in Hathaway, I knew the answer.

Now that the nonsense portion of the column is over (ha. ha.), I’d like to give you some fun facts as a consolation prize. At least one of the people above:

Fought in Vietnam

Is a doctoral-level therapist (not mine)

Makes his or her living with his mouth

Has been in prison

Has passed a Senate confirmation for a post in the Trump administration

Has lost to me at tennis

Is recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction

Is a master’s-level therapist (also not mine)

Has been given a poem I wrote for him or her

Is a born-again Christian.

Has beaten me at chess

Has had me say “you’re full of crap” to them a number of times

Is a former naval officer

Is a former sailor

Is a former soldier

Is a former airman

Is a Marine

I’ll be down to Manchester in a couple weeks for my visit with my daughters, and I’m going to do my best to reconnect with the 13 people above. All these folks, and dozens more, have helped me create the life I have today, a serene and peaceful existence in a Tiny White Box in the Great North Woods with Sam (is a dog), my writing, and my planning for the next stage of my improbable life.

If you’re not on that list, but would like to get together, just send me an email, and we’ll make it happen.

One response to “New Year! New Game! (and I’m the Champion of It)”

  1. I like that line from Browning: “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp, else what’s a heaven for?” Forty odd years ago I read Marshall McLuhans purloined twisted ending paraphrase of it: “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp, else what’s a metaphor?” The idea that a metaphor should exceed our grasp is liguistically a very radical idea.


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