Taking Life for Granted

“Awareness requires a rupture with the world we take for granted; then old categories of experience are called into question and revised.”  Shoshana Zuboff

I love the first part of this quote.  It reminds me that I have everything I need: and more.  And I’m not just talking about my home and its contents or my bank account, or the freedoms I enjoy as an American.  I’m also referring to my most basic abilities: to see every time I open my eyes, to hear, every time I pay attention, to walk when and where I choose.  Daily, I take for granted all of these abilities and more because I presently can do them or have access to technology that enables me to exercise these behaviors with little to no effort.  And in the process of doing these things with little cause for reflection or appreciation, I take them for granted.  I’m more likely to allow myself to “suffer” the slightest imposition or hindrance of such actions than to recognize how blessed I am to have these capabilities.

When we experience a significant loss or decrease to one of our physical or mental faculties, we become aware of how inconvenient or difficult life becomes.  For the moment, maybe even the next few measured moments of time, not only are we more mindful of what we had but we find new appreciation for what we still can do or, if we’re fortunate enough to recover what we lost, a re-appreciation for what we can do again.  But in time, it fades back into the habituation of being “taken for granted.”  Some say, that’s just life.  It’s human nature to do so.  There’s not much we can do about it.  But every once in a while, we meet someone who has remained changed by the experience.  Changed in a way that they become regularly aware of such simple and basic abilities and who seems more often to be in a joyful and content state of being.

I want to be that someone.  I want to continue to be mindfully appreciative of everything I am still able to do.  I’ve built it into my daily walking meditation to be aware of what I’m doing and to say aloud, “Thank You!” often, and to no one in particular. Thank you for the shadows I can see on my daily walk in the woods, for the sounds of my footsteps snapping a twig, for the feel of the wind on my face and the smell of the damp leaves after a rain.  Today I remembered to tell Duke what a great day it was for us as we mucked though the mud, soaked by the wind-driven rain on a 33 degree morning.  Of course, Duke already knew that; dogs seem to do that naturally.

As Joni Mitchell says in her song:

“Don’t it always seem to go … That you don’t know what you’ve got …Till it’s gone”

Make time to appreciate what you can do and what you do have.

Each time you can’t seem to catch a break, recognize that there are often more times that you do and you just don’t recognize it.  When you do, say it aloud.

A Peek Behind the Curtain

The Zuboff quote makes sense, because there is awareness and AWARENESS. AWARENESS is ‘Aha’! Normal sensory anticipation of the world’s flow operates on one level, but Shosona Zuboff is talking about epiphanies. Such glimpses are typically sudden, surprising, and compelling. David Brooks calls these “annunciation moments” — and they are powerful enough to change your life.

A rupture lets you take a peek at the underlying structure of an experience. It changes your yardstick for measuring the world and your own perception. Henry is talking about increasing the likelihood of celebrating epiphanies by practicing mindfulness – washing the filters that color perception. It’s said that the human brain can process eleven million bits of information per second, but the conscious mind is aware of only forty. The goal of being mindful is not just to increase the number of bits you consciously process, but to apply better quality standards to your focus. I am in total agreement with Henry — the first step is to say ‘thank you’ out loud for each ‘small miracle’ in your life.

I’m rereading a book called Centering, which likens a person’s creative consciousness to the art of pottery. The author talks about centering the clay on the potter’s wheel, pressing down and inward, then drawing upward to lift the walls of the vessel. Most importantly, she focuses on the shape of the inner space within the vessel – but, she also writes about the artist’s use of destruction in the creative process.  Her advice is to occasionally damage a clay-shape that is looking good and reassess how you would re-build. This ‘rupture’ of the material forces the artist to jump the groove of constantly repeating the same design. In the same manner, we sometimes have to rupture – or break with – our typical path in order to see where we have been and where we are headed in a new light.

Assume, Alas to Dream

Interesting- I can’t relate much to the quote but the concept is very real.  Maybe it is the time of year.  I shop for my kids, I stop for the groups collecting change in the road and try to generously contribute to the particular cause.   I feel fortunate that I have the monetary ability to donate above what I need to get by.  Last week my daughter and I were decorating the Christmas tree and ran out to get something to eat.  On the way home she wanted to stop at Starbucks and get a coffee-  well not just a coffee, some kind of latte with multiple creams and other items I have no understanding of.    She knows all the people who work there cause she tips big.  When we got to the window to pay, the girl said we didn’t owe anything cause the car before us paid for her coffee.  Wow- I was kind of overwhelmed and gave her a big tip and paid for the coffee for the guy behind us.  I took it for granted that I would pay for our order and became emotional at the simple gesture of a total stranger. It made me feel good and I wanted to make someone else feel that way. 

I wake up each morning and assume I’ll be able to get around, find something in the fridge to eat, and go on with my day like I planned.  I take the day for granted.  In the past, I took my relationships for granted and did nothing to insure their well-being.  Since I am in a new relationship now I do not take it for granted and daily work at making it better than yesterday and make sure I acknowledge it and listen to the cues I am receiving from him.  That is not quite as easy as taking it for granted but it also pays a premium.  

The dog kisses my face in the morning when he is ready to wake up.  He protects me, keeps me company, watches me in a way humans never do, but I have started trying to do that.  Being attentive to others’ needs, anticipating others’ concerns and trying to address those things instead of assuming everything is a-ok.  We all know that to assume makes an ass out of u and me!
I take for granted that the requirements of life will be there- there will be food to eat and water to drink, air to breathe and curiosity to satisfy…until the day when the body can no longer maintain its mobility and the mind no longer has clarity.  Things I never had to contemplate before!  Aging has the benefit of reflecting — something we never do in youth but something necessary if we don’t want to take things for granted.

One thought on “Taking Life for Granted

  1. Wow, these thoughts are powerful. I am finding as we get older and have more time to reflect, that we have or at least I have had a lot of “aha” moments. I can now take these moments and use them on the path that I am currently on. When my mom psssed two years ago,someone made the statement that we now have a “new normal” to live by each day. While we may not like it,it is part of the process . I also realized that we are now the top layer of the family tree. This brings the thought that gratitude plays a big part in our everyday life. I do take the time each day to reflect on things that I am greatful for.


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