For most of human history, our ancestors spent their days scratching in the dirt for food, or chasing wild beasts with pointed sticks. At night they slept on the cold ground of a damp cave, or shivered in an igloo.
If they were lucky, they had four walls, a fire, and a mattress made of straw.
From the cave men to the pioneers, life was one trial after another for nearly every soul who’s walked on planet Earth.
Only for a brief moment have humans known the blessings afforded our generation: jobs that strain the mind but not the body; sweet, greasy food brought to our doorstep for a pittance; clothes that don’t just warm and cover but testify to our uniqueness; cars and jets that let us explore the wonders of the world.
Here we are, alive at the perfect time.
Turn from time to geography, and the story of our good fortune is the same.
Of the billions of people on earth, the slimmest fraction have the luxury of complaining about bad coffee, job stress, politics or car repairs. Billions of our fellow humans eat meals we couldn’t get past our teeth, and they live with a physical emptiness we’ve never known. They can’t afford to fritter their time away watching phantom images flit across a screen.
Our struggling towns would look like paradise to the truly poor.
Look beyond our day and our tiny race to the immeasurable universe and boundless time, and the miraculous bounty of the here and now comes into stark relief.
Among countless stars and galaxies, the atoms that form the earth came together in an impossible combination. We are one grain of life in a desert of dead sand.
And among the countless living things on earth, we are the strangest of all: the only ones who possess imagination, who create and appreciate beauty, and who communicate what can’t be thought or felt by any other creature we know.
Consciousness is the rarest jewel in the cosmos, and you and I possess it.
And in this most blessed tribe, we are among the few with bigger things to worry about than our next meal or the roof over our heads.
There is no greater gift than the ability to see, hear, feel, think and dream. How lucky we are to have the time and strength to share our thoughts and dreams with those we love.
This Thanksgiving, may you take it all in — not just the food, but the stars and trees, the clean water and great gulps of fresh air.
May you know your vaunted place among the glories of the universe.