Whenever I look at birds, whether this astonishingly beautiful Silver Pheasant of Southeast Asia photographed by ZW Young, or the drab sparrows outside my windows, I am thrilled. Their aerial agilities, their feathers, their evolutionary history from varieties of dinosaurs, they never cease to astonish. How sad our world would be without them. And as I sit on my deck in late afternoon with my pup Carina, and our planet rotates into dusk as our star shine falls below our horizon, I think with continued amazement about our circumstance: all of us, from trees to birds to dogs to flies to me, are composed of particles born from the eruption and birth of stars over billions of years. The knowledge of these histories come to us from the minds and efforts of millions of humans over thousands of years, until soon we will see so much more from scientists, artists, and dreamers.

This new year let’s think about how extraordinary it is to be here, and how little the effort and great the return just to be kind, to everyone and everything, around us.