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Things You Should Not Take for Granted

Be grateful, do not take things for granted, everything around us is a blessing―these are things we all have heard a zillion times. However, do we realize that in spite of being so "philosophically aware", we, knowingly or unknowingly, end up taking the most important things in life, for granted?
Things we should not take for granted
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
― Epicurus

The lack of gratitude makes us take the most essential things in life, for granted.

As we continue with our journey of life, taking each day as it comes, and slowly sinking into the monotony of it, there are certain moments that sort of knock against the door of our understanding, and raise a question as to how we have prioritized our life ... not only our life, but the many lives that are associated with us. This article is a compilation of the moments that reflected in my life during the most desperate hours of need; they helped me realize the things I did take for granted ... about the things that some day or the other we all tend to take for granted.

There is a Reason We Call it Family

Family picture at sunset
While we're too busy to flip the pictures of the past,
We seldom realize, these are the only relationships that last!

How many times have we blamed 'the lack of time' to be the reason for not calling our parents or siblings? Are we aware of what is happening in their lives? Are our parents enjoying their retirement, or do they feel lonely? Is your brother facing challenges in his job? Is your sister happy with her partner? Who has time for all these things, right? They're all grownups and capable of handling their lives pretty well, isn't it? Then, what makes you different from others who are "non-family"?

I have come to realize the hard way that the only people who will stand by you through thick and thin is your family. Calling your mother for a few minutes during lunch, just to ask what she's cooked, telling your father about the fishing trip you went for, or messaging your sister while eating at her favorite joint ... these are the little things that make life worth living and prevent us from being too busy for our family ... prevent us from taking our closest relationships, for granted.

Has That (Friend)Ship Sailed?

Innocence of childhood friendship
The innocence of childhood friendship,
Where no form of judgment is found.
The only real friends we had, were then,
Now, we just wish time could turn around ...

Friends―it amuses me how we have truly demeaned the meaning of this wonderful term! Come to think of it, "Who do we call our friends?" People we have met once or twice, or people who work with us and share a moderate relationship with us? Maybe we just call them friends for the heck of it. Anyway, coming back to the point, hasn't "growing up" made you realize that the whole relationship is no more what it was meant to be; that this supposedly in-depth relationship is becoming shallower day by day?

While you might blame the other to be the reason behind your friendship falling apart, think about it ... it took the two of you to be friends, so it would take two of you to ruin its depth. When your few-months-old friends judge you by your clothes, or mock you at your weaknesses, don't you remember your childhood pals―true friends who did not judge, expect, or mock you? How many times have you avoided your childhood buddy's call, or your commitments have prevented you to join the get-together or a reunion? Have you taken your true friends for granted?

Freedom Isn't Valued Until it is Taken Away

The spirit of freedom
If you do not decipher the value of freedom,
Ask him who is locked within the four walls.

You must be wondering, even if we take our freedom for granted, how does it matter? I had a friend whose family never set any rules for him. He could go where he liked, and come back as late as he wanted to. Little were the parents aware that he had gotten into the habit of drugs and alcohol. As soon as his parents found out, they sent him to a rehab, and his world turned around. A guy who never followed any obligations was asked to follow rules. He didn't have the freedom to drink alcohol, party, take drugs ...

Although what was happening was for his own good, he realized that these were the consequences of him taking his freedom for granted. Had he realized his responsibility towards his family, career, and his own life, he would have never gone through such a devastating experience. He has taught me to be grateful for the privilege to roam free. Don't take advantage of it; honor your responsibilities towards others so that you may enjoy this gift in the true sense of it.

Health ... is Indeed the Biggest Wealth!

Father and son walking
Do you realize what a blessing it is,
To feel the air pass by, to hear the birds that fly,
To smell the wet mud during rains,
When everything is felt, nothing refrains ...

I have often heard people complain about the health "problems" they face. From being overweight to pimples to hair fall to a short height ... I have heard it all! To be honest with you, even I shared the same category until one day, my work introduced to me to a medical condition called cystic fibrosis (CF). Without getting into the intricacies of this fatal condition, and to put it in a simple way, CF takes away the ability of a person to breathe freely. Imagine not being able to dance, jump, or sing without fear ... fear of losing out on life! And after reading through the experience of the people with CF, who have lived their lives to the fullest, irrespective of the challenges faced, I can't thank God enough for the gift of good health.

So, now every time I wake up in the morning, I don't forget to listen to the beautiful songs the birds sing to me, or the breeze that passes by with a slight warmth of the sun. The amazing senses that we have, the power to feel, smell, hear, and see, is enough to make you realize the beauty within and around you. Irrespective of the fact that you may not have the perfect health, count these small blessings, and see how your outlook changes towards your life, and your health!

Nature is Nothing but a Miracle in Itself ...

Beauty of Nature
Isn't nature a miraculous painting, with elements
that make all things live?

Yes, I am one among the many who saw the movie 'Avatar' and realized that nature is more than just animals, plants, mountains, and deserts; it is a source of energy, power, healing ... it is a miraculous source of life itself! I mean, just think about it. The water that quenches our thirst is enough for the plants to grow and bear flowers. The plants are a natural source of medicinal properties that can cure many diseases. While we have taken nature for granted, and driven away from its motherly care while inviting new diseases, it still has its wondrous ways to heal us. Various healing techniques, like yoga, ayurveda, reiki, and the like, focus on the energy of nature to bring balance in our deranged lives.

Haven't we exploited nature enough, taking for granted its supreme power over us mortal humans? We have cut trees, killed animals, polluted the purity of waters that flow. ... Don't you think it's enough? Our technological achievements are futile against the wrath of nature, the glimpses of which have been seen in the past in the form of catastrophes, such as tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, floods, famines, and wildfires. Aren't these enough to show man its true place. It is high time we take actions to heal the wounded Earth. Like nature, its patience should also not be taken for granted.

Home ... Our True Shelter in this World

Be grateful for a place you call home
We blame life for not giving us a fancy villa, with a beachside view!
Wasn't home supposed to be a place of rest and peace,
Multiplying your joy, even if the means are few?

We usually tend to interconnect the two words: home and family. Growing up in various cities, I have always heard people whine about not having a spacious house, or comparing their interiors designs with others in the circle. But my entire perception towards home changed when I saw the image above. I don't know why, something about this image just struck me, touched me deep within ... or, gave me yet another 'moment of reflection'!

I looked at this image, and I thought to myself that even though these children are not exactly under a fancy shelter, and that they do not seem to be living in luxury, their smile depicts such contentment. Though I don't expect you to understand this, and it is indeed very difficult to explain, it just made me realize that "home", in the true sense of it, is not a luxury hotel with chauffeurs and servants, or fancy paintings. It is a space decorated with hugs, smiles, care, and concern. It is a place that keeps you safe from the outside world so that you can rest, rejuvenate, and gladly take life as it comes.

Food ... the Fuel that Gives Us Life

Hands asking for food
While we are blessed with the option to eat what we feel,
There are some who wouldn't even know,
When would they get to eat their next meal!

While the quote above may sound a little effusive, it is a fact. I realized how fortunate I am when I saw an overwhelming sight of an old lady hunting for something to eat at a garbage bin. It drenched my heart with pity, sorrow, and most importantly, guilt. Not that I was responsible for her misery, but somehow that moment recalled the memories of times when I had thrown away food―bread, salad, leftover pastas, pizzas―just because my stomach was full, or I wanted to get rid of the "clutter" in my refrigerator. Well, we all tend to do this, and it is quite a normal act. But when I saw that lady, I realized, what if I took a little effort to give that food to the poor instead of throwing it in the garbage?

Another realization that occurred at that moment was the sin of "gluttony." We humans are funny, aren't we? We sit at our desk jobs, feel extremely hungry, order extra food (just in case), eat extra, and then pay money to take a gym membership and lose all those added pounds. I think if we learn to value each and every grain as a miraculous source of energy, and consume it by valuing it not just as food, but a source of nourishment, there will be enough to feed many others. I learned this from a very dear friend of mine, "When a beggar comes across and asks for money, give them food. Because it is more valuable than money."

A Job ... You're So Fortunate to Have One

A happy family
Don't you feel grateful that you have a job that enables you to provide for your family?
Aren't their smiling faces worth the so-called trouble?

We often wish we had a better job that gave us a higher salary, an amiable boss, or perhaps, better leave policies. The grass always looks greener on the other side, and therefore, we are often on the constant run to find better opportunities. Though there is nothing wrong with it, I believe that comparison demeans the value of this gift that enables you to provide for yourself and your family.

It is needless to say that there are millions of people all across the globe who are jobless, who cannot even think of owning a luxury car, or shopping at malls. They don't even have enough to educate their children, or provide them with the basic necessities of life! Your boss may be an authoritarian, your salary may be less than expected, but mark my words―if you replace your dissatisfaction with gratefulness, it will reflect in your performance. Valuing what you have makes you give your 100 percent into it. And who wouldn't reward a productive employee?

Your Talent ... An Underestimated Possession

A woman playing the violin
All of us are born with a talent.
What may be common for us, may be a marvel for others.

The reason why I have chosen this image is because talent, or the ability to do something uncommon, to me, it is nothing less than a magical act. We often underestimate our talents and abilities, perceiving them to be nothing unusual. What we fail to understand is that they are a gift, and yes, everybody has this gift. Before you roll your eyes and mock this statement, read further. When I began my career as a writer, fortunately, I came across so many people whose writing abilities were way better than mine. I found myself to be very ordinary at that point of time. However, outside my workplace, when my family, or friends saw what I did for a living, they said, "How on earth can you write so much, we fall short of words even when it comes to a paragraph!" And yes, it's true. Not everyone can write.

You maybe good at making people laugh, but not everyone can do that! You maybe good at singing, programming, playing the guitar, or a violin ... ask people like me to whom these abilities are nothing less than magical powers. I mean, how does one reach such high notes, or understand the complicated languages of computer? The point is, no matter what ability you have, it is magical. While you may categorize it as a big or small thing, the fact is, that it is these abilities that make you special. Learn to value them and see how it transforms your self-esteem and your life, overall.

The Dependence on Technology ... Have We Taken it for Granted?

Dependence on technology
You flip a button and there is light,
Internet makes you access the world overnight!
In absence of these "necessities" of life,
Would you imagine what would be our plight?

Being born in the modern age, and looking back at history, doesn't it make you wonder how our ancestors lived without electricity? How did they travel miles to fetch limited quantity of water? How did they travel for days, walking from their homeland to distant countries? When I ponder over these questions, I end up wondering, "What would we all do if technology breaches our trust?" I mean, we open a tap because we trust it to provide us water. We flip a switch in faith that it will provide us light. Most of our valued information is stored in computers, and we trust it to retrieve the information to us when we need. There are innumerable instances that state that we have become way too dependent on technology, and in the process, we are taking technology for granted!

While we depend on technology, technology, in turn, depends upon the natural resources provided by nature. It won't be wrong to say that taking nature for granted, also makes you take technology for granted. How else would you explain the power cuts, the rising prices of fuels for our vehicles, and similar instances? What if nature takes over technology? What if history repeats itself and the Earth becomes flooded? What if we are left with no technology? The early man rubbed two stones together and created fire, used his common sense and created wheel. If we were to live a nomadic life, depending on the sources of nature, would we be able to survive?

A few days back, I started reading this amazing book by Rhonda Byrne―The Magic. It suggests the reader to write down ten things that they were grateful for, every day. Initially, it was a struggle, but as I gave it a deep thought, I realized that there were so many things to be grateful for, and I am fortunate in so many ways. Though I won't push you to read that book, I would sincerely recommend writing down ten things you are thankful for, and in the process, attain clarity that the things you end up taking for granted are the things you should not take for granted at all.
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Published: August 28, 2013
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Comments
Well Done ! - GAD [December 18, 2013]
Beautifully written. Loved it. :) - Gauri [August 29, 2013]
Thank you. :-) - Shalu [August 28, 2013]
Commendable Job - CM [August 28, 2013]
Great job, Shalu! - Renuka [August 28, 2013]