Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving: A Time to Be Grateful for So Much

Those people cannot enjoy comfortably what God has given them because they see and covet what He has not given them. All of our discontents for what we want appear to me to spring from want of thankfulness for what we have. Robinson Crusoe, Daniel DeFoe

It’s an oversimplification, but the thought of giving thanks for such a dire situation haunted me. Imagine being shipwrecked, alone, on a desert island, and being thankful for what you have—abundant food, good shelter, clothing, sunlight—instead of cursing what you lack, the company of another. Since I found that sentence, whenever I start to glance at the negative side of my balance sheet, this thought shocks me back a bit to look at the abundance of riches on the positive side.

In that same Wiki write-up was James Joyce’s famous take on the character Robinson Crusoe and the idea of British colonization:

"He is the true prototype of the British colonist. … The whole Anglo-Saxon spirit is in Crusoe: the manly independence, the unconscious cruelty, the persistence, the slow yet efficient intelligence, the sexual apathy, the calculating taciturnity."

I felt so thankful for the enormous gift of James Joyce. For all he embodies of Irish soul, for his sublime use of the English language, for his pointed criticism.

And feeling connected to the wit and mind of Joyce made me think of John Donne,

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated.......No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind."
Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVll

One aspect of these connections between we volumes of one author is heightened, for me, by blogging. As I come to the end of a second year of this writing adventure, I am thankful for the community of readers who stop by these pages, and who create such wonderful pages for me to wander through. I don’t know if I’ll make it through a third year, but for now I’ll agree, Never, Never Say Die.


Christopher Campbell-Howes said...

A rich and heady post, subtle and moving as always. Thank you. Please try and make it well into a third year - and beyond. No other blog (that I know of) approaches yours for its balance of feeling, well-harnessed power of expression and originality of content.

Happy Thanksgiving!

M.A.Peel said...

Christopher, you have a precision of commenting that warms my heart. Merci.

dorki said...

Your mention of Crusoe reminded me of the huge backlog of books to re-read that I have. I just keep getting and reading more. I need a library wing on the house made of Ace bandage so that it will stretch.

I agree with Christopher - well said, and keep up the good work!