Gratitude, with fireworks

Last night, the Fourth of July, I went to a friend’s house in Ridgewood NJ. Aside from the pleasant company of the hosts and their guests, their home is only a couple of blocks away from the town’s annual fireworks display. When it got dark, we walked to a parking lot and watched the fireworks as they were launched from a field across the steet.

I’ve seen the Ridgewood fireworks before, and they’re always grand. This year was the best they’ve ever done. It was the perfect blend of color, design, and style. The technology of fireworks has improved considerably over the years; when I was a kid there were certainly no fireworks that could explode in the shape of a smiley face!

As I watched the fiery trails arc across the sky and transform into expanding globes of alternating colors, my main feeling was one of gratitude.

– I was grateful that, despite all my vision problems of recent years, I could still enjoy the sight of fireworks.

– I was grateful that I had a “zero-gravity” chair that I could use to get the best view… and even more grateful that, despite weakness imposed by cancer and problems with my feet, I was now well enough to carry that chair from my car to the parking lot.

– I was grateful that I knew why there was a delay between seeing the explosion and hearing it, and that I could use that knowledge to estimate how far the fireworks were above us (about 200 feet, if you’re curious).

– I was grateful that, as we were waiting for the fireworks, I could see the first-quarter moon, Mars, Saturn, Spica, and Arcturus, and identify them for what they were.

– I was grateful for a life that let me have the luxury to travel to that spot, in that time, to watch the year-long effort of the people who crafted those fireworks for the pleasure of other people enjoying themselves.

The people around me were going “oooh” and “ahhh.” I “oooh”ed and “ahhh”ed with them. I don’t know what they felt at that moment. For me, and from me, a thanks to all those who made that moment possible.

You don’t believe

Occasionally I’m asked how I reconcile being both a physicist and a Wiccan. My answer is long and I think most people find it tedious. But in today’s Writer’s Almanac, I learned that William Blake expressed it much more succinctly:

You don’t believe

by William Blake

You don’t believe — I won’t attempt to make ye.
You are asleep — I won’t attempt to wake ye.
Sleep on, sleep on, while in your pleasant dreams
Of reason you may drink of life’s clear streams
Reason and Newton, they are quite two things,
For so the swallow and the sparrow sings.
Reason says ‘Miracle’, Newton says ‘Doubt’.
Aye, that’s the way to make all Nature out:
Doubt, doubt, and don’t believe without experiment.
That is the very thing that Jesus meant
When he said: ‘Only believe." Believe and try,
Try, try, and never mind the reason why.

Advantages and disadvantages

I’m reorganizing my apartment. I bought three new book cases, donating those books I no longer need, and moving the remaining books to different shelves. 

This has its advantages. For one thing, all my Wicca-, pagan-, and magic-related books are in one place my students can access easily, in case they have to reference something.

It also has its disadvantages. The biggest one so far: What the heck happened to my copy of The Elements of Ritual?

Oh, well. I hope whoever has it now is getting some benefit from it.