- One would expect that thanks to God and the Universe would arise in fat times, when everyone is overwhelmed with the bounty of happy being, as exemplified by this marina. That would misread the perversity of the human spirit. People usually take bounty for granted, and end up complaining about the quality of their silverware, the poor habits of their servants, the evil thoughts of their neighbors, or their own victimization compared to just about everybody else.
- Days of common thanksgiving, illogically, are usually declared in times of disaster. The typical exhortation no matter how bad the crisis is “think how much worse it could be!” My task has always been to reverse that scenario. I don’t mind complaining bitterly when life is awful, although I hardly ever find it so. I think it a duty to be thankful every day for everything, and I am constantly reminding myself how much worse my life and my world could have been.
Earthquake, drought followed by flood
Locusts, fire, war, lost our food
Diseases were gotten
Our cheeses went rotten
At least we ain’t dead yet, thank God
- Birds should be grateful _ lots of berries and fruits still hanging on the tree, as yet undamaged by frost. The rest of nature is asleep or storing things like nuts where they can be easily found later. With all that is around, one would suspect there is easily enough for all, that provisions have been made for every tiny being on the planet. Malthus and Darwin and the rest have proved that idea to be cruelly wrong, a fact which we easily verify for ourselves.
- People are different. For the first time, we have real opportunity to limit our populations, and guarantee at least food and personal security to just about every human born. That we do not _ from violence or greed or maladjustment _ is hopefully changing. Paradigm shifts occur almost by themselves, like US pop culture becoming worldwide, and perhaps the next big one will be finally that all folks on the planet are in this together and will thankfully share the overwhelming bounty being created.
Curt was, as usual, complaining as we waited in line at the supermarket.
“So you didn’t have such a nice thanksgiving, even with all the family over?”
“Oh, it was nice enough, especially in principle _ we know we should get together once in a while. But geez, what a bunch of complainers. The adults were whining ignorant envious wimps. Their kids were worse _ vicious unappreciative grasping monsters.”
“Ah, c’mon,” I try to cheer him up. “People are always like that, always were like that, when they get together with people they trust.”
“I don’t think so. Well, maybe. I did get sick of being told how easy my life had been, the fifties were a utopian lark, the sixties were our indulgent fools’ paradise, and you know they truly believe we never had to worry about anything. But, oh them! Woe, impossible to find decent jobs, insecure about everything. Their house is huge, but someone else’s is huger, their car is nice but they want something nicer, the kitchen was done over, but it’s already starting to show its age. And horrors, Adam is not as brilliant and focused as Jennie, Heather loafed the summer and missed out on soccer camp. What garbage. They have no idea what they have.”
“Surely, we have been the same.”
“Nah,” he grumped, “Nah. I’ve always been happy and properly grateful for a wonderful life, even during harder times. Them, no matter what, they think their world is going to hell and pretty hellish to be in right now and they can’t understand what they are supposed to be so thankful about. Stupid little twits all of them.”
“So it actually was horrible time,” I finally agreed.
“No, of course it was great. We love our family. Whatever gave you that impression?”
- Amazingly warm weather continues. Nice for anyone taking advantage of it outside. No doubt bad for the planet. But that is true of many things, and there is always a question how much we enjoy the moment at the expense of losing the future. We need to be thankful for each day, each minute of grace. And yet we should also be grateful that there have been pasts which we can remember, and there will presumably be futures that we can imagine.
- I realize that personally there is little I can do to stop planetary warming on my own. There are en
ough shrill voices. My own contribution to climate change is miniscule _ I hardly drive, take maybe one plane trip a year, and try to be conscious of reusing materials. But that makes no difference. So I enjoy the lovely temperature, putter around my yard, and without too much guilt leave worries of the future to the future. I guess I should also be grateful I can do that.
By any measure I have been among the most fortunate of people. I never deserved to be born, and I surely never deserved my good fortunes. I was willing to do what was necessary: to love, to work, to appreciate, to hope. Rewards tumbled all about, and all I needed to do was be willing to recognize them.
There are many unhappy people, or at least I so gather _ most of those I actually know seem content enough. For much of the world this has been a measurably better time than most of the past, and it is a well-known historic fact that after such improvements is when revolutions usually occur. Perhaps there is about to be a revolution. Maybe it will even be a good one, for a change.
Some worry about social trends, some about climate change, some about falling populations, some about overcrowding, some about things I know nothing of. The best of times, they cry, the worst of times. Don’t I realize that …. Whatever. Wake up do something.
What I do beyond the boundaries of my yard has little impact. What is one drop among seven billion identical to me? Life has always been out of control, the future has always been unknowable, and yet somehow we arrived here in these interesting times.
So I wake up and give thanks. I walk and give thanks. I fill myself with food and give thanks. I am grateful I can think, and sleep, and still do many things. The only proper reaction to being alive and conscious is to be awed. Those who give those miracles up to preach despair are, I firmly believe, simply fools.
- Sometimes, naturally, being Pollyanna all the time becomes wearing. It is a rare person indeed who never has negative feelings about their place in the world. That is especially true after trying so hard to look at the bright side of things for a week.
- I suppose I have ups and downs like anyone. What have I done, where am I going, what’s the use of it all. Silly, but there it is, just as real as being happy for all I have. As day breaks, I know my task is to once more try harder to celebrate all that is. A somber close to a wonderfull week.