It’s been a little over a year since we got high-speed internet, and I still do not take it for granted. Every time I’m shopping on a web site, for instance, I hit the “see all” button and all the products pop up on the screen. I couldn’t do that with dial-up, which let me see a few objects at a time. When I pay a bill online, I appreciate my fast internet connection. When my daughter sends me pictures of the grandkids, I can receive them all without a problem. I am so thankful!
Of course, “being thankful” and “taking for granted” are mutually exclusive. If you have one, it’s pretty unlikely you have the other.
What other things have I not taken for granted since we moved out of the giant house in town into the small house in the country? The sound of birds, the ability to walk around without much traffic, our new soft mattress, having our first couch in a decade, the peace and quiet. Every day, I thank God I still have a wonderful job that I enjoy.
Ever analyzing the past, I realize that I took so much for granted in the old house. The big closet, the garage in the winter, the huge exercise room, my sewing room, extra rooms for guests, a 4-block walk to work, and the ability to step outside our front door and get the mail (we now go 1/2 a mile). It is true that we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone.
Going further back in my life, it was easy to take people for granted. I took it for granted I would have my sweet cousin Mike and my best friend Bernie for a longer time than they were allotted in years. I loved my Dad so much and was devastated when he died at age 64 (when I was 26). I didn’t take him for granted per se, thank God, but I took it for granted that he would always be here.
I took my body for granted in my younger years, its ability to physically do pretty much whatever I asked without pain. An ache in my right knee and a left ankle/heel with plantar fasciitis and who knows what else changed all that.
Part of the Journey to Simplicity is to encourage the “thankful for” and discourage the “for granted” feelings. At first, I was overcome with sadness and regret when I thought about the people and things I have had in my life whose presence I took for granted. But then I became just more determined to learn from that - and to appreciate everyone and everything I have now. I do not want to look back in years to come and regret a “take-for-granted” approach to my world that I might have had in 2009. I know some lessons we have to keep learning over and over, but I certainly hope this one sticks. It is a painful lesson, but I truly believe that mastering it is one step closer to a fulfilled life.