Taking stuff for granted

Although it is never my intention, I have come to recognize that I take stuff for granted. We all do in some way or other. It is so natural to assume we will always be here or that we will always have what we have. Even when we lose something of value or someone we love deeply, in time we manage our lives with those losses and resume our lack of mindfully being grateful for whatever we have or have achieved. We have forgotten when, or are too distracted, to engage with someone present enough to smile as we pass them, or a kind and thoughtful hello from a stranger who sees us. Have we lost the ability to live without having an agenda?

Every year about this time we go about telling ourselves we are grateful or thankful, and I am not sure of the distinction, although I do believe there is one, however subtle. Why do we need one day of the year to remind ourselves how blessed we are, or that we have much to be grate—thankful for? Should it not be something we naturally sense in our daily lives? A morning or evening prayer does not cut it. There are times when that can be perfunctory because habits are oftentimes done without being fully present. Even prayer. We should make some effort each day to reach out to be kinder, more in the moment. Life should not be rushed; it should be savored. If we are too busy or too caught up, we cannot naturally participate in this kind of exchange. We lose the essence of being in the moment when we over-engage in social networking. It is compulsive; it can be a distraction. We need to be reflective sometimes, not always reactive. So many of us are losing our ability to hear or listen because we are not paying attention to the sound of words; human interaction is natural. It is not enough to text or keep tabs on Facebook. While it has become a very convenient way to maintain connections, both with those we know and those we would never have known otherwise, something poignant gets lost inside the public display of connecting.

I began by saying that I have come to recognize my shortcoming of taking things for granted. In a conversation with someone earlier today, whom I had not spoken with in several years, we shared this conversation which gave birth to this post. Our passionate debate went back and forth about the whole idea of taking, or not taking, things for granted. We had different ideas about this, yet we both agreed that the commercialization of Thanksgiving makes being grate—thankful superficial; to a degree. At the very least, it is a one-day event, preceding Black Friday, which often ends with college football, overeating, and less about gratitude. I am not suggesting that taking stuff for granted is a deliberate thing. It is simply how we process our way through life.

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