After my recent birthday post in which I expressed gratitude for my life, I was asked to whom or what I am directing my gratitude.

I’m not sure that gratitude necessarily has to be directed anywhere. I don’t believe in gods, so I certainly don’t feel the need to thank anything “other” than existence for existence itself. But being an atheist does not preclude me from feeling grateful.

To whom, then? To my parents for making me possible. To my children for teaching me and making me laugh. To my friends and colleagues for supporting me and putting up with me. To humanity’s thinkers and scientists and dreamers for helping make the world a better, safer, healthier place for us than it once was.

To what? To the beauty and wonder of existence. To the universe itself, and the remarkable set of physical laws that enabled galaxies and solar systems and planets to condense and spark life. And to our own nature, which endows us with empathy and leads to most of us wanting the best for one another.

Gratitude for me means simply acknowledging and appreciating the good in life, wherever it can be found. The world is full of good things and good people, and I am deeply grateful to be part of it all.

My crush on Tanya Donelly and her music continues.

Belly, “King”  🎶

Just applied beard oil for the first time and now I smell of rich mahogany and am kind of a big deal.

I wanted to try to write something profound today but all I have is this: I am now 50 years old, and I am grateful for this one life of mine.

Rode a couple of nice trails on the west side of Lake Taupo today: Waihaha to Waihora, then the K2K. Tired legs now.

Because I am now “very old” my eldest boy tells me I should grow out my goatee. The problem is that once my goatee gets longer than about a number two clip it becomes quite grey, so letting it grow it out will be a definite acquiescence to my advancing years… not quite a relaxing into them, but perhaps a start.

I turn 50 in ten days, and I might just grow out my goatee.

Every Kiwi kid learns about Anzac Day. Schoolroom lessons are made of the beaches and cliffs at Gallipoli. We know about the trenches and mud and machine guns, and we know about the killed and wounded soldiers. We know about the poppies.

For me Anzac Day is tied to the year more, and means more, than any other holiday. Christmas and Easter are hijacked seasonal rituals, entirely out of sync with our southern winters and springs. Halloween, that candy-coated newcomer, ostensibly celebrates the dead exactly at the time our days are warming and lengthening and we should be celebrating life and the coming summer.

Anzac Day alone feels right, coming as it does in the last week of April when the days cool and shorten and the trees turn red and lose their leaves. We gather together in the pre-dawn to remember our fallen, and I never fail to get a lump in my throat as the bittersweet strains of The Last Post fade and die, even as the sun rises once more to remind us of all that is good in the day.

And when we know about the poppies, there is plenty of good in the day.