Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Till It's Gone

The less you have something, the more grateful you are for it.

I've touched on this in other posts. Not having hot water makes me grateful for it; not having air conditioning makes air conditioning all the more wonderful. I am thankful for the things that I don't have. This principle is succinctly summarized in the old proverb, “You don't know what you have till it's gone.”

But if you approach this from a purely logical standpoint, you begin to see some difficulties with this principle. How far do you go with this? Eventually you'll end up as an aesthetic. If you're more grateful for hot water when you only have cold water, are you more grateful for a house when you don't have one? Is the state of “not having” inherently better than the state of “having”?

We all like getting new things – they are fresh and unexpected. But the problem with new things is that they get old. “Having” something eventually means that you become less grateful for what you have. If that makes you less grateful, are you a more grateful person if you go without everything?

I turned this over in my head for a long while. I came to the conclusion that the best way to get around this issue is to act as if you don't have the things you do have. If you feel deeply in your heart that you don't have hot water, you are irrepressibly grateful when you jump in the shower and find that you do have hot water.

In other words, if you act like it's gone, you'll know what you have. I am thankful for what I have, because there was a possibility that I might not have it.

See everything as if seeing it for the first time. You'll have all the goodness of being grateful with all of the goodness of actually having the thing you're grateful for.

Everything is new.

1 comment:

  1. Love this! We lived with the Amish and lived like them for three years so I can totally relate to having nothing. Now we live in a house with electric. It is especially nice to have a refrigerator.