Thankfulness 63 Million Miles Away: How technology and discovery can magnify gratitude

* This is week three of my month-long quest to explore what it means to be thankful.

Earlier this week, I witnessed an event that won't occur again in the United States for another fifty years.

On November 11, Mercury's orbit aligned perfectly between our perspective on Earth and the sun, so for a few hours that morning, the planet could be seen traveling across the disk of the sun.

My husband and I are both fascinated by astronomy, and we had already purchased sun-viewing binoculars for the solar eclipse two years ago. We planned to use them to watch the Mercury transit.

However, when it came time to look up to the sky, clouds blocked the sun.

We were determined to see the event, so after checking the area weather, we decided to drive east in search of clear skies.

Along the way I marveled at the science and math behind predicting this event. How did someone figure out the exact date and time of the transit? How do scientists know when the next one will be visible? 

We only had to drive a few miles before we saw a break in the clouds. Shawn found a place to park at the end of a gravel road, and we got out our specialized binoculars. I took off my glasses, fitted the two round scopes of the binoculars to my eyes, and lifted my head. 

The sun came into focus, and per Shawn's direction, I looked in the upper right-hand quadrant of the disk. I knew the planet would be small, but what I saw was a tiny dot, like a speck of dust on the sun! I sat back in awe of the sun's massive size. I was amazed at the distance my vision had spanned, and I gained renewed perspective for my smallness in the universe.

I was instantly grateful for all the discoveries and progress that have been made over the centuries. How many minds have considered the topics and advanced the science? Where would we be without those passionate and persistent people? 

It was a beautiful testimony to human curiosity and ingenuity.

If astronomy is not your thing, that's okay. You can pay attention to another piece of technology or dissect a different innovation or event to magnify your gratitude.

What objects or events in your daily life are legacies of innovation?

On whose shoulders are you standing when you use these objects or experience the events?

Some Doorways from this week:

  • When Shawn came into the room to announce we had to leave the house to view Mercury, I was just getting into my morning routine. I had to drop everything to go with him (even forgoing brushing my teeth!), but I made an instant decision to put aside my compulsive tendencies and experience this unique event with my husband. My morning did not go as planned, but I'm grateful I have the mental capacity to accommodate spontaneous changes and still enjoy the day.

  • This week marked a year since I began seeing my physical therapist, and in writing her a thank-you card, I was able to reflect on what she has meant to me and my health. It was a beautiful time for gratitude.
  • Driving home from errands last week, my mind had been consumed with small details and my upcoming schedule. All of a sudden, my attention shifted to the sky as I took in the beautiful cloud formations. I felt my worries drift away, and they were replaced with a sense of calm and peace.


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