Ode to Joy

Someone I know said recently that we should all list five things each day that we’re grateful for. She’s quite right, we should, and I do. I’m always gasping to myself about the things I’m grateful for, including the person who said this and the fact that I actually wake up each morning (I’m only going to get to see about 0.00000026% of all the days there have ever been or ever will be, so each one is precious).

I’m not going to list five things here, just two that I’m particularly grateful for today. The first is that I didn’t get struck by lightning! I climbed Mount Wilson, near Sedona, and the view was so stunning that I failed to notice a mere 20-mile wide thunderstorm creeping up behind me and trapping me on the mountaintop. To one side of me was a thousand-foot sheer drop, and to the other was safety, but to get to it I would have had to cross slightly higher open ground, directly under the worst of the storm, so I’m additionally grateful that a) I was very interested in atmospheric electricity many years ago and so I understand how things behave in a large potential difference, and b) I’m only five foot ten. Anyway, I got away with it but it was a bit close for comfort. I was otherwise engaged during the really scary ones, but here’s one of the many lightning strokes that were busily seeking out my head:

Yoo-hoo! I'm over here!

Yoo-hoo! I'm over here!

The second thing I’m grateful for today is that I was born on such a beautiful planet. The other day I was looking at photos of Mars and it looked amazing. But the interesting bits were hundreds or thousands of miles apart. Earth’s a bit more complex. Here is just a small fraction of the beautiful things I saw in a mere ten square FEET on the flanks of Mt. Wilson today. You need to have “What a Wonderful World” playing in your head as you look at these. Enjoy!








About stevegrand
I'm an independent AI and artificial life researcher, interested in oodles and oodles of things but especially the brain. And chocolate. I like chocolate too.

13 Responses to Ode to Joy

  1. Zola says:

    Nothing like a brush with real danger to remind you to appreciate things. 😉

    • stevegrand says:

      Very true! I was just saying to Ann that I actually enjoyed it. It really was pretty risky but there was little I could do about it because there were no real hollows and too many solitary tall trees. So I basically just had to stand there, enjoy the performance and hope my hair didn’t start to stand on end! So there I was, with a billion volts boiling above me and it was awe-inspiring. It made the delicacy of those flowers even more beautiful.

  2. Daniel Mewes says:

    When reading the title of your post in combination with the lightning (I’m glad you didn’t got hit btw!), I had to think of the first verse of Schiller’s Ode to joy (as in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony / EU anthem).
    It begins with “Freude schöner Götterfunke, [Tochter aus Elysium…]”, which literally means something like “What a joy, beautiful spark of god”.
    Lightning certainly is a kind of spark, isn’t it? 🙂
    But that just as a small side-note…

    I totally agree with you that earth is full of beauty – especially in the smaller scope – if one justs looks at it carefully. Just noticed that I haven’t been out into nature for quite a while now. Think I should change that…

    • stevegrand says:

      Hey Daniel. Gosh, I wish I could pretend that I knew all about that “spark of god” coincidence and was being terribly clever. But I didn’t really. So thanks for telling me about it!

  3. Pius Agius says:

    Hi Steve,

    You are quite right about this, in the general hustle and bustle of life we forget how lucky we are. Richard Dawkins has often stated that we, the living,are the lucky ones. We witness the wonder and awe of this marvelous universe and can allow ourselves to enjoy and participate in it.

    We are star stuff, our atoms forged in mighty hearts of stars, suns long since gone. We are the cosmos made conscious and this is indeed marvelous.

    Life makes often gaze downward, in order to aviod the pitfalls. However it is always encouraging to look and think upward.

    Lovely, calming pictures you take, though one was rather shocking!!!

    Take Care


  4. csgrand says:

    nice flowers

    and no sneezing better and better

    • stevegrand says:

      🙂 Interestingly I haven’t had any hay fever here, although I’ve not been here in the Spring, of course. By the time you come and see me, the place will be blanketed in snow, so I think you’ll be ok, pollen-wise!

  5. spleeness says:

    OMG those photos are incredible. The lightning shot especially!! And creepy that you were that close. It must have been so loud and quite jarring.

  6. Lisa says:

    Once again, you’ve posted some beautiful photos! I’m also very happy that you managed to avoid getting hit by that lightening. I watched a wonderful show about lightening on (I think) the National Geographic channel. They even interviewed one man who was struck by lightening while he was fishing. He showed the pants he wore at the time, and his zipper actually melted!

    Some of the best lightening storms I’ve seen in my whole life were in Arizona, during the monsoon season! They’re spectacular to watch, but also scary to be around. However, that doesn’t change my love of lightening storms, because too few of them occur in the area we live in California. They are absolutely beautiful to behold!

    Be careful though! I believe this is Arizona’s monsoon season.

    • stevegrand says:

      Hey Lisa, Yes it was a typical monsoon storm, but I think the season’s possibly over now – we’ve had clear skies all day for the past few days. Next comes the snow! I love lightning too, but I think I’ll pass on having my zipper melted!!!

  7. Darchen Jurusli says:

    Absolutely stunning photography there, and I am proud to say that I do not know the first thing about lightning (apart from it not being a good idea to wave around a silver rod during a lightning storm).

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