Friday, July 9, 2010

the art of appreciation

I’ve been engaged in a few conversations lately that have me thinking about how we try to preserve and expand the moments and things in our life that bring us great joy…that matter so much to us. There are often times, when in a sincere attempt to get more of something that makes us feel good, we lose the uniqueness and rarity of that thing which made it stand out and sing to us so much in the first place.

a lovely daughter

During my girl’s getaway weekend, a very good friend was talking about being a stay-at-home Mom to her two young daughters with another friend who worked full time while raising her own two and a half year old daughter. She said something that rang out above the din of all the laughter and conversations that struck me right in my heart. She said she worried about “losing sight of it all”…..of how she could see the possibility of getting so buried in the day to day routine of it all, in all the tasks that she had to complete to look after her children, that she might eventually miss appreciating her girls and her time with them as much as she used to…unlike the full time mother who has less time and may be more aware of the precious moments that she has with her daughter. So she was making a conscious effort everyday to not let that happen…to not miss the moments. I thought that what she said was so honest and beautiful and rare….it is one of the reasons that I believe she is as wonderful as mother as she is.

cottage beauty that takes your breath away

The following weekend up north I was speaking with my father about our family cottage. He and my mother are both retired and I was enquiring as to whether or not he thought they would start staying at the cottage months at a time during the summer and fall. He hesitated for a moment and then said that he didn’t think so. He said that he really enjoyed the feeling of “coming up to the cottage…of arriving here” and that he didn’t want to lose that by basically living up there for half of the year. I realized his feelings were similar to my friend’s….he had a different solution, but the end result was the same…a conscious effort to engage in the art of appreciation. My father knows that the "getting there" is one of the reasons why he has loved the cottage the way he has for the last decade...and he wants to keep it that way.
my own art of appreciation project

The art of appreciation is different than not taking things for granted. I do not believe that my friend has ever taken her daughters for granted even for a second….nor do I believe that my father has ever felt like that about the cottage. I believe that both these people feel lucky, every day, to have those people and things in their life….the art of appreciation is one step further. It’s about still feeling the magic when a daughter smiles up at you or puts her hand in yours…or when you catch the first sight of water on your winding drive up north or when you hear your kid’s cars maneouvering down the gravelly cottage driveway late on the Friday night of the first long weekend of the summer. It’s about recognizing the importance of that magic no matter how much time passes….and never losing sight of it.