I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  This is one holiday I can really get behind – the idea of taking a day to really reflect on all that we’re thankful for seems as good a reason for celebrating as any.  And oh, how much there is to be thankful for!

So I decided to take the time and list some things I’m thankful for.  Perhaps you can relate to some of these.  I’m going to spend a little extra time with regard to technological marvels since, after all, this is a tech newsletter.  Here goes…

Technology I’m Thankful For

  • Medical Technology: when you think of how much technology is available to us when medical needs arise, it’s really truly amazing.  From the devices and machines, to the systems and pharmaceuticals used for treating a mind-blowing range of maladies – the medical technology available to us is nothing short of remarkable.  We have it good folks – very good.
  • Transportation: just a few generations ago, the idea of travelling just a few miles, let alone all the way around the world, could be a major undertaking, if not completely impossible.  Now we have planes, trains and automobiles to carry us around our world at incredible speeds, allowing us to see things, and visit people and places that simply wouldn’t have been possible in years past.  In just over a hundred years we’ve gone from covered wagons to over one hundred THOUSAND flights per day around the world.  Just think, if you really wanted to, you could be on the other side of the planet tomorrow (or, if you’re flying west, yesterday).  Airbags, anti-lock brakes, seat belts – just a few of the countless travel devices we take for granted.
  • Personal Computers: the ability to look up anything, gather information instantaneously, SHARE information instantaneously, and the countless other opportunities afforded by the personal computer is truly miraculous.  When I was a kid, there was no internet, and our personal computer held a whopping 41 megabytes of storage.  Just look how far we come!
  • Content Delivery Networks: YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, PureFlix, Spotify – there are more content delivery networks than I can possibly list – and the luxury they afford is truly awesome.  To think that I can, at any moment, put on EXACTLY what entertainment or information I want at the push of a button is just incredible.  Just a few decades ago our entertainment options were limited to the albums we had in the house, the VHS tapes we had stacked in some closet, or the Blockbuster Video across town.  Now I can watch Season 3, Episode 6 of darn near any show I want, any time.  But I’ll have to turn off my specifically chosen music genre that’s currently playing on Pandora to hear it.  Remarkable.
  • Skype: if I want, I can have a face-to-face video call with nearly anyone I know, right now, absolutely free.  Just think about that for a moment.  We don’t even need to get on one of those amazing flying machines and travel a thousand miles to see each other – I’ll just click the mouse and we’re sitting across the table from each other.  And the screen-sharing feature of Skype makes collaboration easier than ever – now we might as well be sitting side-by-side looking at the same screen.  Talk about taking productivity to the next level.  What a world Skype has opened up for us.  And again, it’s FREE.  Truly amazing.
  • Outsourcing: yep, I said it – outsourcing.  I know there is a stigma attached with outsourcing but the fact is, if you need something done well, affordably, and quickly, websites like Freelancer.com, Fiverr.com and the like, have opened up a world of possibilities.  And to be honest, I have no qualms whatsoever with giving my money to someone in Bangladesh who certainly needs it a whole lot more than an $80/hr digital specialist sitting in an office in Silicon Valley.  From retouching photos, to proofreading, to transcription, to programming, to designing logos, and so much more – the fact that you can now choose from millions of people all around to world to find the best person for the job with tremendous efficiency is pretty darn cool.
  • Infrastructure: indoor plumbing, hot water, electricity, communication systems – we take it all for granted in the western world.  I am SO EXTREMELY THANKFUL for plumbing and clean water.  6 in 10 people on this planet (about 4.2 BILLION people) don’t even have access to a toilet that flushes, or clean water.  Just think about that for a moment the next time you’re sitting on the throne, or drinking a clean glass of water.  It’s funny, one of the greatest luxuries of all is something so simple, and yet tragically out of reach for so many people.  I try to recognize just how fortunate I am every time I turn on a faucet of flush a toilet.  I often wonder what my friends in Indonesia would think of our garbage disposal.  Might as well be magic.

When you get right down to it, almost everything we interact with on a daily basis is technology of some sort.  From the houses we live in, to the phones we use, to the food that was shipped to our local grocery store, to the plastics and metals and chemicals that make up nearly everything we touch – it’s all based on technology that simply didn’t exist not that long ago.  It’s interesting to watch shows like Downton Abbey or even Little House on the Prairie and note that as normal people, we enjoy more luxury than the wealthiest people on the planet did just a hundred years ago.  We have machines to wash our dishes and clean our floors, bring us food and water, provide light and sanitation and transportation and communication and information.  I’ve heard that wealth is ultimately determined not by possession or ownership or even liquid capital, but by access.  I can’t agree more.  Access is the luxury of the 21st century and we should all count our blessings that we have access to so very much.  I am so very grateful for all that I have access to.

So in addition to all these technological marvels that I’m thankful for, what I’mmost thankful for is the love and abundance that makes up my life.  This includes, but certainly isn’t limited to:

Things I’m Most Thankful For

  • My absolutely amazing wife Shannon, who has brought so much abundance into my life.  Without her I don’t know where I’d be, and I don’t really want to.  My life is brightened, enlivened, richened and deepened by her on a daily basis.  I feel like the luckiest man in the world every single day.
  • My incredible family and friends who have supported me through thick and through thin.  Yes, I’m talking about YOU.  You have, in no small way, made the splendiferous life I now enjoy possible and I am so thankful for all of your support and love.  Not a day goes by where I don’t find myself in gratitude for something one of my precious ‘ohana has brought into my life.  You are a light in my life, and from it, I radiate.  Thank you SO MUCH for being a part of my life.
  • My home and my culture.  We live in challenging times and I couldn’t be more happy with the abundance offered by my community.  When I think of all the places I could be living right now, all of the cultures I could be submersed in and acclimating with, I feel truly blessed with the richness of my here and now.
  • My health.  When I look around at the atrocious state of health much of the world lives in, I feel so fortunate to enjoy good health.  My body works properly, I’m able to do the things I want to do, and I’m free of pain.  This in itself is a luxury I’m most thankful for.  Here again, much of this is owed in no small part to my wife who has done an incredible job steering me in good directions when all I wanted was to eat sugar cereal.  As a side note, I feel I should give credit where credit is due – so; much credit should be given to her for the nutrition tips I sent out last week (she was the main driver in developing those meals), and will undoubtedly send out in the future.  Every family needs a standard-bearer in health.  She has been that and so much more for me.
  • The abundance I live in.  I’m not a rich man, if riches are measured in liquid assets, but I AM a wealthy man, for all of the aforementioned reasons, and so much more.  I live in utter abundance every day of my life and I try never to forget this.  Perspective is everything and if I’m ever feeling sorry for myself, or ruing my lot, I remind myself that my perspective has clearly been distorted – because my reality is one of wealth beyond belief.

Well I know I’ve left much out but I’m also cognizant of this fact.  For everything I’ve listed that I’m thankful for, I know there are a thousand more things that aren’t at the forefront of my mind at the moment and thus didn’t make the list.  That’s ok though, because I’m thankful for them too.

Beyond the Pale

One final note I’d like to share before wrapping this up is as follows.  I’ve spent a good deal of time during my life learning firsthand, or, more often, through media of one sort or another, just how tragic this world can be.  The pain and suffering I see in the world around me is enough to bring me to my knees and weep.  People have often asked me, “Why would you subject yourself to the horrors of this knowledge?”  My answer is this; Because from great sorrow comes great joy. 

Yes, 21,000 people will die today from malnutrition.  Yes, almost half the world – more than 3 billion people – live on less than $2.50 a day.  Yes, people are killing each other all over the world, mainly, ultimately, tragically, for economic reasons.  The list goes on and on and on and on…  There is seemingly no end to the sorrow in our world, and it pains me to no end.  But all of this serves as a reminder, as a sharp contrast to just how unbelievably, blessedly good I have it.  It can be hard to appreciate all the wonderful things in our life when we take it all for granted.  I’d go so far as to say, it’s nearly impossible to truly see the magnificent brightness of the light without the darkness to compare it to.  While I sincerely wish this weren’t so, I believe it to be true.  Otherwise we are lulled into a comfortably numb position in front of our technology, with no real appreciation for much of anything, and no real drive to make things better.  For me, much of the richness of life comes from deepening my awareness and my experiences, both in sorrow and in joy.  While I may not wish to experience the sorrow, I endeavor to feel the depths, as well as the heights, regardless of the anguish doing so entails, thus that I may shine my own light into the darkness just a little more effectively.

I know the world is full of darkness.  I know just how hopeless things can seem sometimes.  I know there are people all around this planet in dire need of help and support and love and compassion.  And I’m SO INDESCRIBABLY JOYOUS that I have been given the luxury of the ability to help.  To me, that may be the greatest luxury of all; the ability to make the world a better place.

And I am so very, very thankful for that luxury.

…and for so much more.

Happy Thanksgiving

Peace and prosperity and joy be with you, every moment, of every day.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
– Melodie Beattie