Constant access to anything makes it invisible. Gratitude brings it back into focus.
I live in the Rocky Mountains in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. I am surrounded by stunning natural beauty and encounter wild animals almost daily. I have often wondered if I’ve become complacent in my awe of this place until I was recently struck by a thought that cut deep into my existence.
On a recent road trip with my family I was daydreaming and gazing out the car window when out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of something common, but saw it with new eyes. What I saw was a group of tourists on the side of the road taking photos of a handful of bighorn sheep. As I watched the visitors inch closer to the dangerous wild animals I was struck first with concern for their well being then harsh criticism over their response to something as banal as a herd of sheep. Rather than revel in the beauty of these majestic wild animals I was contemplating why anyone would ever want to photograph this roadside scene, nevermind risk their lives to do so?
This thought suddenly sent me back to the first time I ever saw a big horned sheep. As a 19 year old girl living in the majestic Jasper National Park in Alberta, I eagerly whipped out my camera every time I saw an elk, bighorn sheep, deer, and of course a bear. It was an awesome and new experience to cross paths with such animals and snapping a photo was part of the excitement. Those photographs live in a box somewhere and have long lost their luster, but for a time they hung on my walls and refrigerator and filled me with enthusiasm and appreciation for the place I temporarily called home.
When did it change? At what point did this experience go from awesome to ordinary? Why do I so easily criticize people for doing the exact same thing I did years ago? As I followed this thought I realized that there was a profound lesson here.
Why does the newness of something dictate its value? Perhaps our conditioning to want the next and the newest and the best and the brightest has eroded our ability to value what we already have. Would escaping this paradigm not alleviate some of the pressure to constantly work to accumulate and obtain?
What I realized in that moment was that access creates invisibility. When we have constant, never ending access to anything it loses its value. Constant access to money reduces the value of each dollar. Constant access to love can make it so invisible that we take it for granted. Living in a place without war makes peace invisible.
I don’t want to ever lose sight of what is true and what is right and what is important no matter how accessible it is to me. The best way to do this is to practice daily gratitude. Gratitude opens the heart and the eyes to things we already have and brings the invisible back into focus. When we take time to really appreciate the things that are presently in our life we direct our attention to what we love rather than focusing on what is missing.
So to those eager tourists I say a humble namaste and thank you for reminding me to appreciate all that lies in front of me.
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