Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday, neither because it's an excuse to overeat nor because I have a weakness for kitschy cornhusks hung on front doors, but because it reminds me just how lucky a girl I really am.
Fear not, this is not a digression into the oh-so-popular "check your privilege" discussion. In fact, I think the word "privilege" itself has lost a significant amount of meaning in recent years. While it still connotes material privilege, it seems to have forgotten the intangible privileges. Privileges like our sense of self-worth, our determination, even our infinite futures too often go unchecked when we're lying in bed at night counting
In all seriousness, we are constantly bombarded with everyday trivialities that we cannot help but get caught up in. We obsess over having enough JumboCash to support our unhealthy coffee habits and we obsess over having enough prestigious job offers to support our comfortable lifestyles. We obsess over, and are ultimately thankful for, these things because they are conventional goals and needs. These goals and needs are shaped by who we are what we know, which is why, when giving thanks, we look to the trivialities and material objects that we know so well.
Recently, I realized that I have more to be thankful for -- we all have more to be thankful for. And while we are what we know, what our parents have taught us to be, and what we have always been, we must appreciate more than our signing bonus and summer homes. While it is extremely important to appreciate what we have, it is just as important to appreciate the vastness of our futures, of what we do not have or even know of yet. It is an immense and underrated privilege to have possibilities, to know that there is no corner of this infinite universe that we may not one day hold in our clammy hands. Did you know that?
This reliance we have on conventional value standards -- on any standards for that matter -- to govern what we want and appreciate is toxic. To what you aspire in life is solely within your control; no one can tell you what is right or good or important. Cowardice is this: to do something because you are good at it or familiar with it or because someone told you to. We cannot keep falling back on ourselves like this, because it will keep us from doing that which we absolutely must -- move onward. We live within a galaxy that is constantly expanding at a rate to which we may never catch up, but mustn't we at least try? Should the knowledge of infinity fix us here, safe with our attainable, yet conventional desires? Will having a girlfriend or a good reputation really satisfy you, or just quell your fear of not having anything at all?
We must stop letting this fear of uncertainty govern our actions, no matter how small or insignificant the action may seem. This kind of irrational, incurable fear will destroy us. It will stifle our uniquely human penchant for adventure and spontaneity. It will devour the vital sense of curiosity that has brought us here, to Tufts. I know this because I have borne witness to it. I have watched fear keep people from pursuing their own passions, from opening up to others and from letting love in. I, too, have let this fear harness me, and I have let complacency satisfy me.
But this Thanksgiving has reminded me that there is beauty in the vast unknown. If nothing else, science has shown us that all normal matter, everything we have ever observed or are presently observing, makes up less than 5 percent of the Universe. This means that at least 95 percent of everything that exists around us is and will forever be uncertain. Uncertainty is inescapable. We must stop fearing its vastness and instead look at it as room to grow into. Like a cup, let emptiness be what fills you.