Well, it’s Thanksgiving week again here in America, and though I’ve skipped this post three out of the past nine years, I thought this year deserved a more considered essay than last year’s outburst. And indeed, this year there’s been lots more to be thankful for than what was a very difficult 2016—difficult enough that we’ll just let it sit there and move on.

So what is there to be thankful for in 2017?

I’ve been working through some conscious efforts at self-improvement and personal and professional growth that have actually moved me a little bit in a positive direction. That might not seem like much, but you’re dealing with an old dog here, and new tricks are rarely welcome and when they are, can be devilishly hard to adopt.

Still, I’m enormously thankful for… who? Any of the authors of the books I’ve read or audio programs I’ve listened to? Sure, I guess.

Or am I thankful for my own ability to push past the crusty old man exterior that’s descended over me to start taking some added measure of responsibility for my own reactions to things? I suppose.

But in the final analysis, what I’m really most thankful for is the access to new ideas and information that’s constantly at my fingertips. Sure, there’s way too much so-called “outrage porn” out there and cyber-bullying in all its demented and sad, petty little faces, and last year’s horror show of an election became… what it became… But still I get to explore the Information Age on my terms, find help, weed through various ideas and methodologies, try new stuff, set aside what doesn’t work, adopt what does, and hybridize my own new ideas and patterns out of the mix, and now here I am actually doing better, believe it or not, psychologically and financially, as a result.

So yeah, I’m thankful for being a reasonably smart person in a world of smart people, sharing ideas and opinions and jokes and strategies and stories and innovations.

I’m thankful that I can still change my mind about things.

I’m thankful that I can still change my behavior for the better.

I’m thankful that I’ve found ways to ignore the things that don’t matter, engage positively with the things that do matter, and discover new ideas then get to decide whether or not they matter.

I’m thankful for being a human with something to say and something to offer in a world full of humans with things to say and things to offer.

Some crap happened in 2017—crap always happens—but some good stuff happened, too, and unlike last year, let’s grab on to the positive and move into 2018 on that note.

One of the things I didn’t so much learn but was reminded of in 2017 is that you can’t always be in charge of what happens to and around you, but you can be in charge of your reactions to those things, and small steps in the right direction starting in January can take you a very, very long way by the end of November.

Happy Thanksgiving.


—Philip Athans


About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, (https://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/) is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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