In the United Tanks of America; this week is Thanksgiving, the season started by Abraham Lincoln during the darkest days of the American Civil War to remind americans that they did indeed have a lot to be thankful for. WordPress decided that they would take the opportunity to get people Vlogging about the things in their lives for which they are thankful… however I have missed the proverbial boat, and haven’t the time to go video editing at the moment (hence the tumbleweeds flying around my YouTube channel).
However I thought that in the spirit of things, and always loving the excuse to have a bit of a holiday, this post is about things, places, people and ideas that I – as a lowly british citizen who will most likely amount to nothing – am thankful for. So let’s begin with the obvious: My Existence.
When all is said and done, I am just a great big humanoid mass of cells, made up of molecules which in turn are made up of atoms which in their turn are made up of mostly empty space… if they weren’t so electrically charged, you could actually walk through walls. But this arrangement of atoms didn’t have to be me, I could have been any combination of human DNA imaginable… I could have been taller, shorter, fatter, thinner, disabled (I don’t call asthma a disability) or indeed you and for the chance to live a life, however brief and however pointless, I am immensely thankful.
Next on my list is my family, however flawed they are individually, and however much they argue, without them I would not be the person I am today, without my mother I would never have got even close to some of my goals, and without my father’s deadpan philosophies I would be just as certifiable as my mother can be (sorry ma!). My dear brother could be called a nemesis, except that as he has grown up he has become one of my best friends… despite being a mathematician, rock musician, and politically apathetic to the point of perversion… and I couldn’t be without him.
Talking of Friends, it’s probably worth mentioning them in general, but to go through each one I was thankful for would be beyond the scope of this blog, so I will just mention a couple. The Debaters come first, the people whomI can have a proper discussion with about our differing opinions, but still have mutual respect at the end. Secondly there are the Strategists, those few people whom I trust implicitly enough to confide in on anything, and who will pick up the pieces when I fail. Lastly are the Educators, the friends I have who will answer my questions, no matter how dumb, about their subject areas of specialist knowledge. I have a great respect for my friends, and for my enemies, and I am thankful for them beyond words.
I am thankful for being in a world I do not understand, as to understand everything in the world, let alone the universe, would then mean there would be no knowledge left to gain, and the point of existence (at least to me) would be null and void… I do wonder what will happen when the span of human knowledge gets to a theory of everything.
That said I am also thankful for Science as when you want to know something, where do you turn? In this world you have two basic options, Science or God, and anyone who reads my blogs/facebook notes will know my views on the latter. Science gives us a toolbox with which to search out the answers to all the questions in the (un)known universe, and it is truely brilliant to gaze up at the night sky, or down a microscope, and find whole new worlds just lying there, that you had never known before.
You can probably add Human Curiosity to this list, and I agree wholeheartedly when Dr Who says things that make him seem to be rather in awe of Humans, remarking on the human inclination for curiosity and exploration. This is one of the things that makes us great, and whilst some all fear the unknown to some extent, we should all try to embrace it.
Mssrs. Jim Thomas, Alan Brown, Zahid Akram and Chris Sweetland are four men whom I am most grateful for having known, and for having had the luxury of being taught by at school, because the four of them together (and by no means on their own) gave me a lust for learning of which I am still afflicted, the former two being Geography Teachers and the latter being Science Teachers were all extremely enthusiastic in their subjects, although of variable teaching success, each and every one having something to bring to the table, Alan made Human Geography bearable and even interesting, and even helped me self learn Meteorology, whilst Jim taught me Glacial Geomorphology, and this I think is the main reason why I went into a Geology. Chris has a way with chemistry that can make it fun and understandable, whilst his industry background gives some perspective and relavance to the teaching, and dear old Zahid, whilst not being the best physics teacher I ever had, was by far the quirkiest, funniest and had the highest enthusiasm!
The last item on my list is Books, mainly non-fiction… because if there is anything you want to know about, even in these days of internet and wiki-(no-peer-review)-pedia there are always books. I sincerely hope there always will be, for there is nothing more satisfying that sitting with a well written book and whiling away the late hours learning something new from the carefully printed and edited pages, and thanks to public libraries, they are accessable to all.
So what about you? What things are you thankful for and why? Perhaps with people taking just some time to consider that question, some will be happier for it.