If this isn’t nice, what is?

          If we keep our eyes open on most days there are blessings, bright moments or happy events.  But the quest for that which is good is up to each individual because whether you are looking at local, national or international news, good news is not what predominates.  

          Kurt Vonnegut gave the graduation address at Syracuse University several years ago. He said “I had a good uncle named Alex, who said, when life was most agreeable – and it  could just be a pitcher of lemonade in the shade, ”If this isn’t nice, what is?’  Now if he hadn’t said that so regularly, maybe five or six times a month, we might not have paused to notice how rewarding life can be sometimes.  Perhaps my good uncle Alex will live on in some of you members of this graduating class if, in the future, you will pause to say out loud every so often, ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?'”

          Here in Rabun County there are many things to exclaim enthusiastically about:

          Celebrations each year of the Awakening of the Vines at Tiger Mountain Vineyard.

          Rain after a long drought.

          Sunshine after days of clouds and rain.

A marvelous observation by my friend, Pierce Cline in a letter to me just before his 84th birthday: “Back when I flew my own airplane, the gas I appreciated was the gas remaining in my tanks.  I will be 84 on December 21st.  I should be grateful for the fuel remaining, not the fuel burned.  I could cite a list of things that don’t work as well – but the truth is, I have never in my life been as happy and as grateful.”

The strawberries and other fruits and veggies at Osage.

          And perhaps most important to me, Maggie’s smile.

          The opportunity to volunteer each week and thereby observe the commitment of the entire staff at Fight Abuse In The Home  (F. A. I. T. H.) and the courage of the abused women  they serve.         

          The smell of lilacs.

           My life has been blessed by the opportunity to travel to places as beautiful as Eagle, Alaska, the Canadian Rockies, Yosemite, Jackson Hole in Wyoming, Gibbs Gardens a few miles from Big Canoe, Campobello way, way up North in New York State and to go to Williams College and to return repeatedly over the years to Williamstown in Massachusetts, Jackson Hole in Wyoming.

          That last paragraph reminds me that spell check is particularly nice for words like Massachusetts!

         The quest for that which is nice and the moments that bring an involuntary smile to my face, is up to me. l know that this is true.  It is up to me to count my blessings.

          Time is finite. Time is all I have.  I must manage my own time and use it so that it brings about moments that bring these words to my lips: “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

Robert A. Hatcher M.D., M.P.H.

Emeritus Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics

Emory University School of Medicine

Atlanta, Georgia