There are many things I absolutely no longer take for granted. Important things – like a steady paycheck and health insurance. I wouldn’t trade my current status for life back in the daily grind, but there was some comfort in knowing that if I had an off day and chose to sit at my desk looking busy even though I was day dreaming, I still got paid for it. As a freelancer, the formula is pretty simple – you no work = you no get paid.
I try my best to appreciate everything I have in this life – family, friends, good health and a comfortable living environment. I work at maintaining my health by eating nutritious food and exercising. Material things are no longer the priority, and I have discovered that a simplistic lifestyle actually soothes the soul.
And yet I still catch myself at times faltering in the appreciation department. Perhaps a friend calls and I choose not to pick up the phone because I am in the middle of something. I chain myself to the computer trying to make a few extra dollars and go an entire day without stepping outside to breathe the fresh air or feel the sun on my face. I let a day go by without telling my soul mate I love him and that I think he is grand.
I was traveling the past two weeks. The first half was a road trip from South Carolina to New York. The countryside I saw on those 900 miles was exquisite. When you see the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley or the green farmland of Pennsylvania, you really don’t have to think twice about whether or not there is an almighty power – it is truly God’s country. The second half was spent in Vermont, right smack in the middle of the Green Mountains. I did appreciate the cool temperatures at night after the sweltering heat we have had in the South.
I was alone for the 900-mile drive back to SC – a great experience that allows for lots of reflection. I find it funny how my brain writes while I am driving long hours. I have written entire books in my head during these road trips. Now if I could find a mind-reading book publisher, I could be famous. Along with writing the world’s greatest novel during my drive, I also gave myself the pep talk about how and why not to take things for granted, especially relationships. We must nurture them, work at them, shine them up like a fresh apple before taking a bite. If we don’t, they will wither or become stale.
The magnificence of life, love and family became apparent within hours of my return. I had a visit from Wyatt and was truly amazed at the changes in him in just two weeks. I watched him sit on the floor completely engrossed in a stacking toy – placing each piece one on top of the other, removing them, and starting all over again. And then his mom asked him, “How does the duck go?” He looked at me, eked out a loud “Quack” and broke into a giant, proud smile.
As we hustle through our busy days with endless errands, work projects, phone calls, traffic jams, aggravations, emotions and just a plethora of junk and static – stop, even if for just a moment, and really smell those roses. Remember what life is all about. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, reshuffle those priorities. If you see everything in a different light when you reopen your eyes, savor it for a minute. And make a solemn vow to not take it for granted, because there are no guarantees it will be there tomorrow.