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.

14 comments:

Erin P said...

I really think it's a way of life. I think some people understand the need to pause and really soak in the feeling of joy when it comes, and others always seem way too busy and much less happy. It's good to think about it consciously sometimes, too. To be reminded, lest we forget.

Mildred said...

Hi Andrea, Such gorgeous photos today. What a lovely, thought-provoking post. I think you and your friends and your parents are all very fortunate to love and treasure each minute! My 2 posts before last have funny cat photos - never a dull moment! Hope you have a nice weekend.

Shana said...

Really nice photos.
The art of stopping to smell the flowers and not letting Life get in the way!

gigi said...

Wonderful post and I love your pictures, awesome rainbow :)

Jeanne said...

You always seem to do such a great job of being in the moment....

Carolynn said...

So true. The art of appreciation is like savouring the taste of a really exquiste piece of chocolate and letting it slowly melt in your mouth instead of simply gobbling it down.

My dad used to carve beautifully detailed duck decoys. I approached him once and asked him if he'd like me to market them for him in the city. He thought about it for a few days and then said no. He told me he was afraid he'd lose the enjoyment he took in making them if he treated it like a business and had to produce them. Those duck decoys are the only thing I wanted after he passed away.

claire said...

thank you for the reminder! i always try to stop and be thankful for everything (and especially my dog), but it's so easy to get caught up in the day to day.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Great reminder to appreciate more moments! Chance sends a kiss to Sophie, we hope you are having a marvelous summer and hope you get some great "lake" moments in! :)

Hilary said...

Beautifully expressed and so very true. May your parents have many years of arriving at their cottage.

Pamela said...

and then sometimes, we want so badly to remember everything and hold on to the feelings, that we miss out on what makes it a great experience.

I've done this way too often.

rock on said...

such a good post, and great pictures to boot! It's funny, I've always thought I was the type of person who appreciated the things that matter, but now that I've been laid off (a month before I was to be on maternity leave) I find that I appreciate even more. I don't have that lingering stress from work - that stress you didn't even know you had - until it was all gone. It now leaves so much more time to experience and appreciate everything that matters.
thanks again for the lovely post!

kcinnova said...

Neil Peart (of the group RUSH) wrote: "The point of a journey is not to arrive." The journey is part of the magic in arriving at the cabin, seeing the first sight of water. And the magic is in the moments.
This post was so beautifully written. Thanks to Hilary for pointing me here!

Pauline said...

congratulations on POTW - well deserved. Oh the joy of those recognized moments!

Robynn's Ravings said...

Wow. Very moving and thought provoking. I don't think I've ever heard these exact feelings articulated so perfectly that they resonate in my own heart. We can't have more. More causes us to have less. I've felt it but never knew that was exactly it.

Absolutely beautiful post. Sorry it took me this long to read it. I'm desperately behind in blogging and trying to catch up with all my favorite friends.

Kiss Sophie on her soft muzzle for me. I'm taking Minky for a walk right now at midnight. Warm summer nights here in California. You see things when it's very late and it's fun to watch her reaction. :)