On Being Thankful


It’s perhaps a trite new ager’s cliché, but we have a lot to be thankful for. Also feeling thankful is probably nature’s benzodiazepine but without the water and fish contamination, I highly recommend it. It’s easy to conclude that everything sucks and that the world is going to hell in a handbasket but I just don’t believe that. At least I don’t think now is any different from any other time in history in terms of suckiness. If anything we currently live in the best moment of human history. I mean it, and I say that as an almost-professional-once-historian.

The Roman empire in the 2nd century AD is  a fairly civilized time in terms of laws and infrastructure. Marcus-Aurelius, whom I’ve mentioned before, he’s one of the most popular Roman emperors, when I was a kid it was like Christmas morning finding his card in the Emperors of Rome trading cards packs you’d get at the corner store for a dime, you too? No? Just me? Oh well. Anyways, M.-A. had thirteen kids that we know of, seven died before puberty. That’s the frickin’ emperor we’re talking about, he’s got access to the best of everything available. It must have been depressingly bad for normal people. Could pre-adulthood mortality really have been close to 50%? Quite possibly.

I’ll spare everyone  the history lecture, suffice to say now is the best time to be alive. You might feel romantically drawn towards past periods but well, plague, famine, no anesthesia or medicine to speak of, dentistry done with a hammer, endemic wars, death dealing water supply, common (albeit codified) violence, horrible class and gender inequalities, no internet, or even literacy. Access to books? Not unless you are a monk or loaded. Spices in your food? Sugar? Variety? Forget about it.  News? Entertainment? That’s probably what church was for. You get my drift and as usual I’m drifting away. My point is our lives are much much better than we realize, certainly better than those of all the generations that came before us. The primordial or past Golden Age is a myth, probably concocted by old men bent on bitching about youth.

Just think of travel.

Docs. Awesome for running through airports.
Docs. Awesome for running through airports in style.

How much did your grandparents travel? That’s your grandparents, that’s within living memory. Back that up one generation and apart from the big boat trip across the pond, probably nada with a side of zilch. Most of us have been to places people a hundred years ago were not sure existed or could only read about. I can hear some of you moan about the demise of the stylish classy age of jet travel, what happened to travelling with ease and elegance you might ask? Affordability happened. All things being equal, in the 50’s and 60’s it cost roughly (roughly) fives times more to fly. Your 500$ flight to Cancun? 2500$. I’m pretty sure you would get some dope ass service if you were to drop that on a four hours flight today. Yes it feels like mass transit (it is) and your best bet is to pack your own lunch, but you get to do it, you get to go.  You get on a plane and a few hours (not days or weeks) later you are in a completely different environment. More to the point, in terms of sheer marvels, we’ve all seen clouds FROM ABOVE.

A sight denied to most of humanity.
A sight denied to most of historical humanity.

Aristotle’s head would have exploded at the mere possibility.  So what if I have to wait two hours in line at Miami international for my transfer, and then get the stink eye from the cabin crew as the airplane door hits me on the ass as it closes? At least I get to go, but lordie lordie that was an epic run through the airport.

And of course we also get to see things from below.

We know, the octopus should come under the arm.
We know, the octopus should be under the arm. Noob.

That’s just marvelously crazy.  That’s the stuff of science fiction a mere two generations ago. Now there’s this whole alien, dangerous, beautiful world we get to explore and have cold beers while we talk about it afterwards (refrigeration = AWESOME).

Looking shark! Boy how our relation to sharks has changed since Cousteau
Looking shark! Boy how our relation to sharks has changed since Cousteau.

I’m an average Joe but by all historical standards I live a life of far flung adventure and luxury, and I’m very very thankful.

Not too shabby yeah?
Not too shabby yeah?

I’m also thankful for the D&C crew and all the people we meet on dive boats or in dive bars. We’re all part of a  community who freely admits, to strangers no less, to wearing rubber suits, peeing in them and even liking it, the smell I mean, of wetsuits, not the other thing.

Some divers and chillers.
Some divers and chillers.

So thanks Universe, all of this makes the glass full, not just half full.

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