Thanks and Love

Wild turkey.  Photo by Callen Harty.

Wild turkey. Photo by Callen Harty.

Today I pause to give thanks, though I realize that each day lived is a gift for which I can be thankful. When you survive a major life-threatening heart attack then each day after that brings new wonder and beauty with it that is appreciated in an entirely different way.

I am not rich. I am a long way from being in the 1% of the wealthiest people in the world, but I am thankful to have a house, a car, a computer, clothes to wear, food on the table, and more, especially because I know that many people around the world do not have any of these things. I am fortunate to live in a country where being even lower middle class (or maybe the upper poor) puts me at an economic advantage over most of the people in the world. And even here, in what is said to be the wealthiest nation in the world, there are those who live in utter poverty, who have no home and only a few items of clothing that they can wear. I am thankful that there are people working to help those in need and working politically to end income inequity as we know it. Some day we shall all be equal not only in declaration but in reality.

Of course we all know that riches are meaningless anyway. Possessions can be stolen, houses can be lost in fires or floods. Things don’t matter.

What matters is love.

All that matters is love.

What matters is leaving more love in the world than there was when you came into it.

Love cannot be stolen. It can withstand floods of hatred and fires of scorn. It is everlasting and fills us more than any feast and the more of it that is given the more of it that is returned. I feel as though I am fortunate to be among the 1% in love. My life is filled with it. I have a life partner of more than two decades (going on 23 years) who loves me deeply and has helped me to realize the fullness of my being. We stand together in love and celebrate who we are as individuals and as a united couple. I am incredibly thankful for Brian and all that he has given me in our union.

My mother, whose health has been declining and who through sheer willpower and strength keeps hanging onto her life, still loves me when she recognizes who I am. She raised me with love, stood by me with love regardless of my faults and my mistakes, and I know she still holds that love in her heart for me and all my siblings. I am thankful for the way she raised me, for the ethics she provided to me. When all else is lost I will still have my morals and my conscience to guide me and I can thank her for that.

My family–siblings, nieces and nephews (and great-nieces and great-nephews), and cousins all accept me and love me for who I am. We share blood, stories, tribulations, and love. For all of them I am thankful.

There is also my family of choice, the friends and the people I choose to surround myself with, who love and support me in so many ways that I cannot begin to count them. My life is filled with people who are selfless, gentle, good people who are trying to make this world a better place for all. I give thanks for their daily gifts of conversation, support, and love.

Indeed I am a rich man. My heart swells with the fullness of the love that surrounds me. For this, more than all else, I give thanks on this and every day.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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2 Responses to Thanks and Love

  1. marcea0k says:

    Your prose is anything but prosaic. The honesty and humility infused in each line is inspiring, and not one word is superfluous.

  2. As always, remarkable humanity just radiates outward from wherever you are

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