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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Appreciation Time

Appreciation Time

I regularly write about appreciating your life and everything in it, however this post is about how we take the little things in life for granted.  Consider that life is not about one giant plus or negative experience.  The spectrum of life is that we are born and we die, in-between those two points is what makes up life.  Millions of little events, and experiences take place from the day you are born until the day you die, and that my friends is what life is.  At least life while you are on this earth.  I know that without going into minute detail it comes across as an over simplification.  I will be the first to admit, that to many people religion is a large part, at every stage of our lives.  However, there are those that would argue that point.

As usual this is one humble individual’s point of view.  If I can just serve as the spark that gets you to thinking, I will have served my purpose with regard to this post.  I try to always be aware of my surrounding, and looking for the opportunity to trigger my mind, and recollection about my and my family’s life and experience.

This morning I got to thinking about my maternal grandmother, probably because of the difference in weather, between our winter and her tropical conditions where she lived.  Our vacations to visit her would be comparable to visiting a grandmother in Hawaii.  My grandmother lived on an island in Veracruz, Mexico where everything from the perfect white sand beaches, and warm Gulf of Mexico waters truly made it a paradise.  I never actually lived there except for short two and three week vacation stays once or twice a year.  In order to appreciate a paradise like existence your have to actually move away from there and experience life elsewhere.

After we moved to the U.S.A. (legally as permanent residents) I found that the Dream (promise land in the United States) fell short of the paradise I was familiar with.  I am not putting down life in the best country in the world, but as a child my memory of carefree living on the beach (even if only while on vacation). Work for me, doubled as play, fishing either from shore or off of a boat was a way of having fun while bringing food to the table.  I could fish for bass, crab, shrimp, or harvest oysters from the nearby oyster beds.  My family on my mother’s side were commercial fisherman.  I do realize that as an adult I wouldn’t want to earn a living exposed to the elements, but I can’t label my memories as anything less than paradise.
As usual I digress, I wanted to talk about the small things that require appreciation.  I remembered how when my grandmother would make a pot of coffee, she would start the water boiling and add the measures of coffee directly to the boiling water.  At some point she would add the sugar (to desired sweetness) followed by the milk (cream).  When pouring a cup of coffee from the pot you had to use a strainer to separate the coffee grounds.  Imagine the effort involved to enjoy a cup of coffee.  Today you have all the conveniences of modern coffee makers, but we never even give a second thought at how far the progress has come. One of my brothers owned a classic late 1930’s truck in the late 1950’s.  That truck required turning a crank at the front end to get it started.  Imagine having to do that in our freezing temperatures this winter.  I drive a minivan that can open and close doors with the use of a remote control entry/ignition key.  The same key can turn on the engine remotely and warm the van up before I ever get into it.

This are just obvious examples of how we have forgotten about how improved our lives have become.  Look at your surroundings and imagine our ancestors (don’t have to go too far, think grandparents).  The next time you wake up in the middle of the night in a 10 degree outdoor temperature with a slight wind, and imagine having to go to the outhouse (two-hole one if you are well off) at the end of your property.  The outhouse was never placed near the house.  While you are at it, don’t forget to take a magazine or newspaper (they didn’t have two-ply soft toilet tissue).  There are so many other things that we can think about and be thankful for: Wood or coal burning stove for cooking and heat vs. central heating and air conditioning, and electric stoves, Mail and telephone service vs. cell phones and email and the list goes on and on.  Think about all those things and then join me in being grateful for the life we enjoy.  Before anyone says it, I know that some people are still living in similar conditions somewhere (I also pray for them).  The best is yet to come….

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