I'm in Portland, Oregon for the annual computer science educator's conference. It's fun hanging out with 1200 of my closest friends.
Seriously, though, this is one of the weeks of the year that are a highlight for me. I get to hang out with other CS educators, and remember that I'm part of a profession, not just a university. I usually come away with an idea or two to try in the classroom, which is always a good thing.
Another thing that happens, though, is that I get a chance to "step back", almost literally, and do some life-thinking. In part, this comes from being physically separated from everything familiar, and having all of my "normal" responsibilities put on the back-burner. In part, this comes from the "annual" nature of this conference ... it's always interesting to compare where I am today with where I was a year ago.
And last night, as I was walking home from one of the events, I realized that ... you know, right now, my life is pretty good. I've spent a lot of time in the last couple of years in this blog venting and kvetching and all that. But intellectual honesty demands fairness, and fairness demands that I offer thanks when things are going well with equal fervor to the complaining that I offer when things aren't going well.
I am thankful to God for my good life.
I am thankful for my wife, in so many ways. Not only does she love me ... she likes me, too. She is an invaluable "help-mate" in just about any sense of the word. I feel so unworthy of her. She is, without question, my "better half".
I am thankful for my wife again, as the mother of my children. Her capacity to love and to parent is astounding. I knew she would be a good mother ... but I had no idea she would be this good.
I am thankful for my two wonderful children, who love me and enjoy spending time with me. I hope I have the good sense to remember that and walk away from the computer to play with them more.
I am thankful that all of the people who have caused me stress over the last year are no longer causing me stress.
I am thankful that I have a job that, on balance, I really enjoy doing. No employer is ideal, of course. But if you handed me a check for ten million dollars tomorrow, and told me that I'd never have to go to work again, I'd probably still be at work the next day ... because the work that I do is pleasant and enjoyable. (Ok ... maybe I'd take a couple of days off first.)
I am thankful for thoughtful students, who allow me to push them intellectually, and who push me intellectually in return.
I am thankful to belong to a profession of thoughtful people, populated with idealists, who challenge and inspire me.
I am thankful for people that tell me that they appreciate the words that I write, and that I am an encouragement and a help to them. I am thankful not just for them, but for the opportunity to serve them in return.
I am thankful for people that tell me that I am good at my work ... and mean it sincerely.
I am thankful for the resources that I have, which allow me to sit in a nice hotel in Portland, pig out on really good food, spend an afternoon as a tourist, and play with lots of really cool, expensive toys. And all in the name of "work".
I am thankful, above all, to God, for making all of this possible ... along with so many other things that I ignore.
How can it be
That you, my God
Should die for me
To God be the glory.