From the archives


Top ten reasons to give thanks . . . when you think you don’t have any

I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today's top ten list. The category, while you relax with your paper or slouch in front of the computer screen . . .

Top ten reasons to give thanks . . . when you think you don't have any

10. You have a newspaper (or computer "mouse") in your hand.

Thanks to Guttenberg's press and the World Wide Web you have access to more information today than all previous generations combined.

According to a 2000 University of Berkley study, "the world produces 1 and 2 exabytes of unique information per year, or roughly 250 megabytes for every man, woman and child on earth."

Just in case you're wondering, an "exabyte" is equal to 1,152,921,504,606,846,976 "bytes" or 250 book-length bits of information for every person on the planet!

9. You live in a country that either a) allows freedom of the press, b) at least allows access to my ramblings in print or online, or c) hasn't arrested you yet for reading my column.

8. You can read this column.

According to UNICEF, 885 million people in this world can't read. That's one in six of every person on the planet.

7. You can comprehend this column.

Okay, maybe not a good example when it comes to my writing. But you have a brain that can translate black ink spots on white paper (or pixels on a computer screen) into a coherent message. Again, this column may not be the best example of coherency, but you get the point - and for that, you can be thankful.

6. You can see this column.

Worldwide 45 million people are blind and 135 million people have low vision (World Health Organization). If you're legally blind, you can be grateful that someone is reading this column to you (or that you have one of those high-tech scanners that reads for you).

5. You're conscious.

Again, perhaps a bad example, but before you started reading this column, you had the mental and physical ability to pick up the paper or click on a link to get to this point of nodding off.

4. You're breathing and your heart is beating.

Yep, 99.9999 percent of you are breathing and beating without assistance of any kind of extraordinary medical procedure. Even if you're reading this hooked up to a ventilator and IVs, you can be thankful for the medical advancements that allow you to read this rant.

3. You're reading this column now.

My friend and fellow columnist, Michael Fraley, reminds us, "As attractive as the TV show 'Little House on the Prairie' made pioneer life, the truth is that life was hard and often short. People died because of diseases that we no longer worry about. Women couldn't vote. People of color were separate and definitely not equal. Etc. etc. . . ."

2. You are appreciated!

I know I don't say it enough, but thank you for reading this column each week. You are either very discerning or seriously deranged. I do pray that you find it enlightening, entertaining, or at the very least encouraging that there's actually someone more deranged than you in this world.

1. You're done reading this column!

So, if you can be grateful for ten things simply by reading this silly column, just think of the "exabytes" of things you can be thankful for this Thursday - and throughout the year.

Copyright © 2002 James N. Watkins

From my book Squeezing Good Out of Bad

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