But, as those of us know who have had our hearts lifted out of our chests and repaired, we don’t need a special day to be grateful. For us, every day we get to open our eyes again is more than enough, even though there is no turkey or pumpkin pie involved on most of them.
I am sure survivors of all kinds of other ailments and diseases feel the same way.
A lot of that gratitude was made possible by our sheer luck to have been born in the middle of the 20th century.
By definition, that means we were not born in any of the previous 10,000 years of human existence. Which, in turn, means that, relatively speaking, we have it made.
Take the richest people of ancient Egypt, the pharaohs. They reputedly had it pretty good, but my life span is expected to be twice as long as theirs. And if they lived long enough to get cataracts, they had to walk around blind. Whereas I, should I ever become so afflicted, can get mine fixed. Outpatient.
Or take Christopher Columbus. When he left home he had a compass, a sextant and a spyglass. He was hoping to not sail off the edge of a flat earth. I, on the other hand, have a thing on my dashboard which tells me turn-by-turn how to get where I am going and what time I will arrive. I am positive I will not drive off the edge of a flat earth. And, because I made an online reservation, I know I will have a comfortable room and wi-fi when I get where I am going.
It took Platt Benedict weeks to get here from Connecticut. I am here already, of course, but I like that I can have breakfast at home, looking out my window at a snow-covered lawn and, that same day, have lunch in Florida, outdoors under a palm tree.
When Ponce de Leon was in Florida, he had to deal with oppressive heat, humidity and tropical diseases. When I am there, I just turn on the A/C. I can control the temperature of my living space to within a single degree.
When Lewis and Clark were out West, no one heard from them for months. But when I traveled much of their same route a few years ago, I talked to somebody at home a couple of times each day.
Abraham Lincoln was alive just 150 years ago. And who knows how long he might have lived if he had been able to stay home and watch “My American Cousin” via DVR instead of going out to Ford’s Theater to see it.
Lincoln’s Civil War photographer was Matthew Brady. It took a mule to lug his camera equipment around, and days to see if he got a good shot. Mr. Brady could not have imagined what just happened to me: as I was writing this story, someone sent me a text message (another thing to strain Matthew Brady’s sense of reality) with two photos of the NASA space shuttle (and another) as it was being transported through Milan. The pictures were taken by a device everyone now carries in their pocket. And they were in vivid color, delivered to people around the country minutes after they were shot . Eat your heart out Matt — you were born a century too soon.
Then there was Shakespeare. He was a good writer. But he must have had to re-write. And what a pain that must have been. I’m no Shakespeare, of course, but I have re-written large sections of this simple story several times within a matter of minutes. The difference? Shakespeare had the quill. I have software.
I could go on like this forever, but you get the idea: practically everywhere we look, everything we have, everything we use are things that are nothing short of miraculous when compared to what people have had throughout history.
Go ahead, be thankful every day.
Jim Busek is a freelance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached vie email at [email protected]