We just had the holiday of Thanksgiving in America and part of that is being mindful of what we are grateful—or thankful (as in Thanks-giving)–for. I know that originally the holiday revolved around religious Pilgrims eating with Native Indians but I know less about that, so I am going to stick to the theme of being grateful for my own life. I feel I have a ton to be grateful for. I judge my past based on what I have today and I feel most aspects of my life have gone pretty well. Everything to follow, I have had no control over. Honestly, while I have worked hard, I feel a lot of good things have happened to me rather than me directly reaching out and grabbing for them, so it is extra easy for me to be grateful for all of these positive things in my life.

Let’s take, for example, working on this blog. I am putting in the majority of the work in creating something so if this is a super successful, then logically it is I who have built something worthwhile and it is I who deserve the praise. But to me that type of thinking is kind of a trap, a sloppy way of painting with a broad brush and not noticing the nuances. So let’s go back to this blog example. A lot of my friends are helping me and encouraging me with the writing—my friend Daisy edited the last entry and may edit this one as well. The idea of blogs is not novel, there are a ton of blogs and I have taken inspiration from many of them. Going even more granular, I did not invent or teach myself English, I have had a long line of amazing teachers, and book writers from whom I have learned to find my own writing style. I am doing a bunch of programming to bring this blog into existence and, again, I am using preexisting programming languages, software, and hardware created by people other than me. I am definitely standing on the shoulders of giants, even with this humble blog.

Getting back to the topic at hand, I am grateful to my wonderful parents and, since their divorce, my wondering step-parents as well. My step-parents raised my brother and me as if we were their own children and for that I am grateful to not have only one, but two sets, of parents. They gave me two wonderful homes to grow up in, taught me good habits and morals, gave me love, food, books, etc. Finally, their love was unconditional. I had a secure foundation to experiment from and was never worried about having that taken from me.

In addition, my extended family is awesome—my brother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, family friends, and others were all positive influences. They are all kind, loving people who have taught me many things. They are all like supplemental teachers and parents in my mind, helping out when my parents were busy or tired. Now, as a parent, it is super helpful to have a “village” of people who can help take care of your kid and provide them positive influence and different perspectives. I am grateful I had that growing up. Everyone encouraged me to work hard, study well, and do the right thing.

Finally, I am super grateful for my friends. The older I get, the more I realize that it is hard to make new friends. Even with my current set of friends (and even my lovely wife), I am grateful just to have met them at the right time. You don’t really get to pick who you meet and so it was chance that brought my friends and me together. It’s surreal to think that only a small change in luck would have meant never meeting some of the most important people in my life. They are mostly all well-adjusted, smart, kind, interesting people who revel in my good times and support me in my bad. They are also really intellectually curious people and I feel that has rubbed off on me as we play a lot of games, do logic puzzles, and talk about books and such.

There are some other things I am grateful for that aren’t as people-centric. I am grateful that I joined the computer industry in the early 2010’s, that it has continued growing since then, and my career has gone pretty well. I am grateful for the amount of money I am able to make and the lifestyle I am able to live. Trust me, it is not lost on me. I am grateful to be able to live in a place which is relatively safe, has good weather mostly, and gives my family and me a chance to thrive.