I’m here because of others.

Question: What is here?

Answer: a tenure-track position landed out of graduate school at a four year university located 45 minutes from my two parents and 4.5 hours from the Wife’s two parents. A stable job where the Chair is supportive, the Dean is supportive, the colleagues are supportive. A position where I received early promotion and am confident in landing tenure next AY. A teaching career with flexibility in my class schedule and students engaged. A service career where I lead faculty development workshops, oversee the FYC program, sit on the honors program advisory council. A research career where I have two book contracts, multiple articles, inside access to the athletics department, to the Corps of Cadets.

Question: where else is here?

Answer: this house; a new house in a new neighborhood with room in the house for our family of five; this city with strong public libraries, park and rec association, easy access to interstate and state parks; this state where I was raised, where my wife was raised, where both sets of parents still live; this time, where my kids don’t have to work in factories at a young age, where my wife can safely give birth, where I and my family have easy access to vaccinations and health care, where my wife and I and my kids can vote for whoever we want and then safely voice our support or displeasure.

I’m here because of others.

With none of my involvement or skill or intelligence, I was born to two middle class white people who also have two sets of supportive parents and who had the money to raise a child. I was born to a dad with a college degree who wanted to be in my life and who worked a steady federal gov’t job. I was born to a mom who went back to receive her college degree when I was in elementary school and who could rely on the dad to watch the kids; she didn’t have to pay a babysitter, leave us home alone. I was raised by two white—now upper middleclass—people both with a college degree. I got a head start.

I was raised in a house my parents owned. When they sold that house, they moved into another house they owned. In a neighborhood where the only cause of concern was the length of the grass—gotta cut your grass per HOA rules.

When the local high school didn’t work out, I went to a private school because that was possible. Not because I did anything to earn it.

I went to college. I graduated with $7000 in debt and paid it off within three years.

I got engaged and paid cash for a engagement ring and then wedding ring. I used the money from my summer job, which was a construction gig because my uncle owned a construction company. Where did I live during the summer? At my grandma’s place. For free. Because she was alive and interested in me.

With support from parents, my wife and I bought our first house and I landed a job teaching high school because the principle knew where I went to college and wanted to send her son there. That’s all. She recognized my alma mater.

During graduate school, I never took out a loan because my wife worked. We lived off her teaching salary. I graduated in four years with my PhD. I graduated without any debt because of my wife’s job.

I landed a book contract with Utah State University Press, partly because I met the acquisitions editor, Michael Spooner, through one of my mentors, Michele Eodice. Michele and Michael are good friends who share a love of whiskey and cigars. I met Michael through Michele in Las Vegas at a conference. When it came time for my to pitch my book, I already had a connection. And that connection worked.

On and on. I can now start tracing the head start my kids are receiving. Hard work is needed, sure. But so much depends on the celestial roll of the dice. I wouldn’t be upper middle class if I was born in England in the 14th century. I would be a farmer, live a farmer, die a farmer. Hard work wouldn’t move me up the ladder. So much depends on the roll, the bounce, the spin, looking over the edge of the table with hopeful eyes and seeing the black dots on the stark white of the die.

It’s so much luck, this life game we play. But we also gotta give people a chance to play. We gotta let them sidle up to the table, finger the die, blow on them, toss them down on the hard felt, watch the roll, the bounce, the spin, and see what the black dots say. The Celestial Casinos need to invite all. Not just those who have won in the past.

But also those who have lost in the past.

I’m here because my parents and their parents entered the Celestial Casinos and rolled well. I, then, got entry and rolled, too.

I’m here because of others.


One thought on “Thankfulness: I’m Here Because of Others

  1. Interesting read Michael. So proud and happy for how well your doing! I think it’s awesome. Id like to add with boldness that you are also where you are for the grace,love and hand of the Lord!
    Blessings,and love,
    Mrs Jan
    PS. I believe I hired you for the young man you were and also from much prayer and direction from the Lord!

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