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This morning, seeing that all the kool kidz were tweeting about what they're grateful for on this Thanksgiving Day, I added my 140-characters' worth:

Never sure, as an atheist, what to do w/Thanksgiving. I'm glad of so many things, but thankful? To whom? So will be gladder than usual today.

Possibly 140 characters aren't enough for a statement of a semantic stance: I immediately got some tweets in reply suggesting (as it seemed to me) that my gratitude-challenged nature is sad.

My argument, as I really did try to convey in the limited Twitter space, isn't against noticing and celebrating life's good things--or even against doing so an extra lot on one designated day of the year. I'm just trying to come to terms with the idea of non-specific gratitude.

I feel awe and wonder--sometimes a sense of narrow escape and deep humility--in the face of the astonishing luck by which, at any given moment, I am alive, aware, healthy, fed, clothed, sheltered, and drinking a cup of hot coffee while surfing the web in the comfort of a nice urban living space. It's amazing. Only a very few, very rich, very lucky people occupy a place nearer the pinnacle of human existence than I do. Not a day goes by when I don't marvel at it. I am glad of the good things and people in my life. I'm often humbled by them, and by the number of people who don't have all the good that I have.

But since I don't have a belief in God, supernatural forces, Providence, higher powers, or anything of the sort, I can't feel that I must direct gratitude to such an entity. Nobody singled me out for benefits. I'm not worthy, I don't deserve this life, and I didn't do a fucking thing to earn it. I just won the birth lottery. The moment I posit gratitude to some higher entity for the good in my life, how can I escape the notion that that same higher entity didn't see fit to bestow the same good on other people?

So today I'm glad--extra, super, consciously glad--that I have hot water on tap, and family just across the street (even now carving the turkey--must get over there), and a good job, and my health, and friends all over the world, and access to the internet. I'm glad it didn't snow today after all, and I'm glad I'm able to put a Cat Igloo out on the porch for Dean the Stray Cat to sleep in. I'm glad my mom, at 80, is able to walk the mile and a half from her house to mine and drink coffee with me (which she just did) and I'm glad we live in a city that makes that possible.

As to gratitude: I'm grateful to all of the inventive and greedy and soaring and obsessive people who came before me and put all their little mite into making this city, this modern world, this amazing infrastructure (including the hot running water). Thank you, past humans whose names are unrecorded. Thank you, current humans, who help keep it all working. Thank you, people who invented public sanitation and vaccines and medicine and bikes and cars and roads and computers and the internet and cellular phones.

Thank you, avventura1234, for cooking the turkey today. I'm grateful to you for your willingness to expend some of your vast energy on making my life nicer.

Thank you, Mom, for walking over here and having coffee with me today. I'll give you a ride home. It's getting cold out there. I'm so glad I have a working car.

Thank you, DW Circle and LJ flist, for reading and commenting and interacting with me online and helping me feel connected to a wider world.

I'm glad of more things than I could possibly list, grateful to literally billions of individual people, past and present, for what they've done and continue to do in support of this wondrous life I get to live.

Happy Gladness Day, everybody.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. | Comment at Dreamwidth.



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