Beholden on a Thanksgiving


Ah kids. They enter our world, turn it upside down, and at some point we realize that we had it all upside down in the first place.

In my thirties, I had no immediate plans for having children. Managing a growing company, working a morphing athletic career, and looking at a rapidly changing world, inspired no confidence in myself to manage the additional responsibilities of a child. Let alone two.

My wife at the time, Ronnie, had other ideas. So in the course of three years, when what I had assumed were foolproof measures that we were taking to avoid conceiving children, mysteriously failed, we became the parents of two boys, Joshua and Jonathan.

That was a double shock. With a large number of employees, spread across a few companies that I was responsible for, watching my sons be born had about equal cachet to being hit in the head by a baseball bat, when in fact, I had thought I was already sliding across home plate.

I did several things at that point in my life. One of those involved a lot of struggle. Like a rabbit caught in a snare, I flailed against the new responsibility emotionally. I simply did not see it coming. But as I eventually settled in to the task of learning to be a Father, I knew that at some point, I would be leaving my wife over the issue of these two little gifts being conceived.

So as the years passed and I eyed the door in a resolute, yet furtive manner ( I never spoke of it to a soul), I discovered what it meant to be beholden. Where you owe a debt. As the daily struggles played out, I found that the entity I owed the most to was my children, and of course the wife who I felt had betrayed me.

In time as the divorce process played out, and my future ex life partner and best friend sat across from me with a very kind Santa Barbara attorney mediating, I was surprised when the man turned to our boys and asked them: “All right guys, of your parents, who do  you think that you would like to live with?” No matter how much a person thinks that they are ready for this, wants it, is prepared, there always is an element of ummm, instability at times like this.

I was shocked and in the next instant saddened, as I saw Josh and Jon point to me, and almost simultaneously the look in my soon to be ex’s eyes, of realization, regarding the things to come. We all went home, and in a relatively short time after that, Ronnie was alone in a Condo, and I was living in the home we had shared together, with Josh and Jon, and embarking on my newish career in Photography and Cinematography.

So on this Thanksgiving, and indeed every day of my life, I have no choice but to face that I am forever beholden to my ex wife. The catalyst for great work, was the gift she gave me of our two sons. Life is work by the way. What I am telling you is that my world today is the product of the bond and blessing that come from having Joshua and Jonathan in my life. That was a woman’s vision. Not mine. I can never repay that. I divorced her. Smiling I realize that maybe today, she feels that act was payment: being rid of me.


A friend and mentor of mine is Dr Ed Brenegar who I met through Seth Godin’s organization, Triiibes. Ed  is a Leadership coach, and in his long list of attributes, has a site called Say Thanks Every Day. He has hit on something incredibly transformational and creative with this concept. For in realizing that every moment of every day we are beholden for the gift that is our life, well, there is incredible creative power in that. I suggest that you get to know Ed and his work. We each need that kind of power. Here is HIS Thanksgiving message.

Someone sent me something very appropriate this week. I hope that it blesses you this Thanksgiving.

A mother asked this President… ‘Why did my son have to die in Kuwait ?’

Another mother asked this President… ‘Why did my son have to die in Vietnam ?’

Another mother asked this President… ‘Why did my son have to die in Korea ?’

Another mother asked this President… ‘Why did my son have to die on Iwo Jima ?’

Another mother asked a President… ‘Why did my son have to die on a battlefield in France ?’

Yet another mother asked a President… ‘Why did my son have to die at Gettysburg ?’

And yet another mother asked a President … ‘Why did my son have to die on a frozen field near Valley Forge ?’

Then long, long ago, a mother asked..

‘Heavenly Father .. why did my Son have to die on a cross outside of Jerusalem ?’

The answer is always the same… ‘So that others may live and dwell in peace, happiness, and freedom.’

Fighting On
Fighting On

We are all beholden for the gift of our families, communities, and this great Country we have inherited. I hope this Thanksgiving seeds a renewed sense of hope and fresh perspective for you. Even if all around you right now feels like the image below.

The Ride
The Ride

Here is an interesting tribute that someone compiled, to Johnny Cash and his wife June, based on the song “Hurt”, Cash’s last project. Funny thing about Johnny Cash. I can almost see his house from where I sit writing this Thanksgiving note.

You matter. It will all work out. Happy Thanksgiving.

10 Responses to Beholden on a Thanksgiving

  1. Maybe the best post you’ve ever done. And it couldn’t come on a better.
    I’m thankful for my Ventura friends whom I’ve never seen in person, but who are in my heart today. Thanks very much.

  2. Great post David. Got me all choked up, damn it. One more thing to be thankful for today – people who can articulate their thoughts and emotions as well as you can. Thanks and happy thanksgiving to you.

    • Thom, and Shawn and Ed. Three great big bright lights. Humbling to be your friends and colleagues. Thank you for being a light on my path!

  3. Thank you for this David. The gifts you share of deep honesty and humble perspective, along with your amazing generosity and kindness, topped off by your creativity and vision are a cornucopia of pleasures the world enjoys thanks to you!!

  4. David, you are a man of our times. I say this with all of my wisdom and heartfelt sincerity. I had no idea what was good or bad about your personal life but I am truly happy to understand your unwavering commitment to your kids. That’s the way it should be, but unfortunately is often not the case. I am honored that I was included on the list of recipients of this inspiring Thanksgiving message. This is a message that deserves to be cast out among the public, if only they would embrace it knowing the voice behind it. I am ending my Thanksgiving day a much happier man having been blessed by the choice you have made to consider me a good friend. Thank you David, and thank you for being there for me some thirty years ago when I was attempting to conquer my insignificant demons!!! Bless you, your boys and all the fortunate souls in range of your touch…

    • It is interesting isn’t it Ron? How we may be unaware that someone remembers and thinks of us?

      Aloha pal. Thank you for the read and that amazing note. I am so blessed to have had the reconnect with you !

  5. David,

    While I’ve not followed each and every post on your blog, I concur with Ed that this one is among, if not absolutely, the best.

    Clear concise, and very emotionally driven on a personal level, it helps all readers strip away the extraneous and inconsequential details that pollute our lives.

    Holidays are always hard for me when I can’t get back stateside and spend them with family, but reading a message like this one helps bring things back into proper perspective as I vagabond in my van waiting for tomorrow’s new swell with my little family of Ruby and Ema.

    Thanks for including me among all the worthy recipients of your highly
    distilled wisdom moonshine.

    One love, sensei.

    • I love that we get to play cyber tag and that you include me in your life and work in PR Steve. Ever inspiring what you see, do, and share. Vanning it in PR! Wow. It is 42 degrees here right now. The day after Thanksgiving but the first new day to engage our vision. Thanks for the read!

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