Friday, August 6, 2010

You Never Miss the Water 'Til the Well Runs Dry

Do you know what an A.I. is? No. Not Artificial Intelligence. Although some may argue as to whether the intelligence I have is real or artificial . . . or intelligence at all. In this case, I learned about an A.I. when I looked up the word 'appreciation' in the dictionary.

"Why would you need to look up the definition of 'appreciation'?" you ask.

Recently I have been challenged on whether or not I had fully appreciated a particular set of circumstances in my life. And, of course, amid my tears and hurt and confusion and frustration {all which led me to realize I was mad for a minute}, I began to wonder. How does one "appreciate"?

I'm sure I've handed down judgment plenty of times on other people, too. I trick myself into thinking I have the only cool pair of multi-focal glasses, allowing me to stand a safe distance away but also see all sides and dimensions in the current situation caught in my sights. It's a fact I've said many times, "Wow, too bad for them they can't just appreciate all the ___________ they have!" What were they doing {or not doing} that made me think they didn't appreciate whatever it was I thought they didn't? What have I done {or not done} that would mislead someone into thinking I wasn't being appreciative?

All this circles me back to my original question, "How does one 'appreciate'?"

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times, not a day goes by where I don't come home from work very, very, very 'appreciative' that by some miraculous intervention of God's good grace in my life, I do not have to live with the challenges the people who come to my window every day have to deal with. However, I am also 'appreciative' that I can mingle with them and learn so much from them. I 'appreciate' the privilege I have of being the owner of the American flag that was given to Mother when my dad died. I 'appreciate' it so much, I have it encased in wood and glass; thereby keeping it safe and protected and out of the dusty, moldy, rotting, changing environment. Is 'appreciation' like going to those museums they have created out of old forts or old pioneer homes where each room is cordoned off with a rope and I stand on the other side and let out sighs and point to objects that attract my attention and sigh some more; 'appreciating' the details and what it all represents with my eyes but never actually touching anything or coming in close personal contact with any of it. 'Appreciating' the fact I don't have to live like that which causes me to 'appreciate' the lifestyle I do have.

Does 'appreciation' mean I'm constantly watching my back? Waiting to be hit with a deviant snowball to remind me that snow is not just some soft, white blanket of fluff and it won't last forever so I'd better 'appreciate' it while it is white and soft because pretty soon it will be packable and then I'll get hit with a snowball and reminded . . . you get the idea. I'm beginning to sense that 'appreciation' and 'paranoia' could be kissing cousins. I 'appreciate' my breath, but I don't panic with every exhale, worried that the oxygen won't be there for my next inhale. Maybe I'm not 'appreciative' enough that I don't have to panic over my next breath. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who, physically, really do wonder if their next breath will be there.

If I'm doing all I can, when I can, within the parameters of my life experiences, is that not 'appreciation'?

I remember going to Shriner's Hospital with Nathan every three to six months when he was growing {which was probably until he hit high school}. The technicians who made his prosthetics, the doctors who kept track of his bone structure and skin condition, the nurse who was there with him through it all for 17 years and even the occasional Shriner (whose responsibility it was to raise the money necessary for Nathan to enjoy his freedom and mobility) {hmmm, did I appreciate them enough????} all loved to see Nathan come in. Why? Maybe because of his cute curly hair when he was younger. Maybe his contagious smile and candid responses when people talked to him. Maybe.

But mostly it was the fact that Nathan entered the clinic wearing his prosthetics - not carrying them like so many others - and he literally wore out every pair of legs they made him. Several times, while carefully examining a battered pair of Nate's artificial legs, comments were heard like, "Wow! And just think our own legs get this same wear and tear! It makes me hurt just to think about it." There were several times some new part - a knee or a foot - was being promoted by the designer. If it was at all feasible, they would put it in a pair of Nathan's legs because they knew the part would get a thorough testing. If it lasted through Nathan, it would last through anything!

Nathan 'appreciated' those legs and not simply by looking at them in a wood and glass encasement or from the far side of a velvet rope. He appreciatively used them. I think he hated them a good part of the time. I think he still does. {I know I did. And I still do.} But that didn't stop him from doing all he could in spite of them, though.

So, short story long, all these thoughts are what brought me to the point of looking 'appreciation' up in the dictionary. Here are some very applicable {at least in supporting my rambling here} applications for the word:

  1. Gratitude and appreciation are the very foundation of the Law of Attraction and enabling positive affirmations to work in your life. (This was actually my own contribution, from my own little pool of knowledge.)

  2. In accounting, when a sum of money 'appreciates' or interest 'appreciates', it represents an increase in the value. (And, the way the Wikipedia people separated it, 'appreciation' refers to the monetary definition. If you want the emotion, then 'gratitude' is the word to use. Interesting.) 

  3. There is such a thing as an A.I. (Audience Appreciation Index) where viewers in the UK rate a TV show or radio program on a scale of 1 to 100. The results show which shows the consumers prefer. {Maybe there needs to be such a rating system for life so I can record my A.I. for everything precious and important to me and at the end of the day, I could calculate an overall score and at the end of the month I would have an awesome line graph showing my varying levels of 'appreciation'}.  

  4. Gratitude, thankfulness or appreciation is a positive emotion or attitude. 

  5. Wikipedia also states that it's only been since 2000 that psychology has seriously looked at 'appreciation' and gratitude as important. Up until then they were only focused on dealing with and understanding distress. Since 2000 psychologists have begun recognizing the importance of positive emotions.

I should never have looked the word up, because I now realize that I could do some very interesting {and time-consuming} research on this whole 'appreciation' thing. Not that it would necessarily hurt, mind you. However it still hasn't totally solved my quandary.

Bottom line is, I guess, even though I try and 'appreciate' enough and express this 'appreciation' to my Heavenly Father constantly, it doesn't mean circumstances won't change and be different. That would be 'stagnancy'. Shall I look that up in the dictionary? Everything I love and cherish can't be framed in glass and wood. And, even if I chose to encase all those priceless possessions (not all worldly and tangible, mind you) that way, deep down I know that wouldn't really be showing appreciation. Kind of like those guys in the Bible who buried their money in hopes of retaining it longer. They lost out on a lot of learning and growing {appreciating?} experiences.

So . . . I guess I did what I did, I do what I do and enough is enough. It is what it is. Just please don't question my A.I. unless you ask to borrow my multi-focals first and see all the angles of my world.


  1. Well, and that being said. . . Wow, how your mind thinketh. I didn't know you had the flag from daddy's funeral but that's kind of nice. Thanks for your insights. Love you.

  2. I'm speechless. Your brain is amazing! I think you should considering donating it to the Smithsonian Institute when you die. Why let it go to waste!

  3. Yep, I get it now too. I had an "ah ha" moment when I realized. Love you!!