Richard Panek
When I think about giving thanks, I don’t think about what or whom I’m thanking. The feeling is more a sense of general gratitude, even relief; it’s a reminder to myself to be aware of what’s good—an exercise that has become more poignant in recent days.
Here’s one little ritual I occasionally perform: I go to a local pub, order a pint of lager, and curl up with a short story by the great Irish-English writer William Trevor, who died on Sunday, at 88. One of his volumes of collected stories has 60, the other has 48, so opening one of those books to a new story feels to me a little like life: Eventually I’ll run out of William Trevor stories, but for now the bounty seems sufficient. Of course, the bounty becomes less plentiful with every pint, and so, perhaps, each story becomes more precious. But no matter: This ritual is not about what’s to come. It’s not about what’s been done. It’s not about deadlines or dread or hope or regrets. I write a lot about astronomy and cosmology, so I think about space and time while on the job, and the same is true at the pub of an evening: It’s about here and now.

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