CLINE: Thankful for what I don't have

Everyone will be telling you what they are thankful for next week. Thanksgiving brings that out, causing us to slow down, reflect and be grateful for the things we have.

I'm no different than most people who count a loving family, great friends and good health among their many blessings. But as I got to thinking about all the things I'm thankful to have, it dawned on me that there are a few things I'm grateful to be without.

We spend so much time accumulating stuff that sometimes it's hard to remember that not having some things is just as beneficial as any stockpile. As Paul Newman famously said in "Cool Hand Luke" -- "Sometimes nothing is a cool hand."

With that in mind, here are some things I'm thankful to be without:

* Back pain. Anyone with a bad back will tell you the same thing: There's no gift in the world as valuable as your lower back pain going away. Anyone who has never had it should be thankful as well.

* Noise. In a loud world, it doesn't happen often. But those quiet moments when you get to reflect or read or just do a crossword puzzle in peaceful silence are a nice respite.

* An Atlanta commute. During the rare times I have to transverse Interstate 85 to or from Atlanta during rush hour, I sit and stew and wonder how people who do it every day keep their sanity.

* Food allergies. I have a friend who is lactose intolerant -- he says he's really just intolerant all around -- and the poor guy can't enjoy a milkshake, cheese on his pizza or nachos.

* An affinity for the Gators. I don't care how many games they win. It's like the old joke: What do you get when you cross a pig with a gator? Nothing. There's some things a pig just won't do.

Next week we'll be thankful for everything we have. But sometimes, I guess, it's OK to say thanks for nothing.

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.