I was driving home from work the other day and decided to take a photo of the surrounding countryside. You see, I am among the fortunate ones who gets to commute amid bucolic farms and country roads, since I live in a small town in Georgia, and work in an adjacent small and very historic town about 20 miles away. I don’t have to contend with traffic, noise, overcrowded freeways, or anything else remotely associated with a “normal” commute. I’ve been doing this for about five years now, which obviously has become “old hat,” as everything else that we do a lot of tends to do. The “familiar” replacing the “novelty” and taking away some of the wonderment I felt when I started driving to and fro, particularly when I compared it to my earlier commute through the most congested areas of downtown Atlanta (yuck)!
I shouldn’t have been surprised by the reaction this photo had on some of my Facebook friends, but I was. Again, the familiar detracting from the intrinsic merits of a situation or thing, to the detriment of the thing itself.
I find this quite unsettling, because of the many lost opportunities that prevent us from truly appreciating some of the wonderful things that are right in front of our eyes. It is unfortunate that one should only learn to appreciate that or those that surround us only after they are no longer part of our lives. How many times have we wished we had enjoyed our parents more, gotten to know them better, listen to their advise more attentively, told them that we loved them more often?
How many times have we realized after the fact that the house, or the neighborhood, the town, or even the country that we used to live in was not boring, or ugly, or commonplace, but actually quite swell, and we long to be back there after all?
Now that I’m getting ready to retire and thus will no longer be driving through these country roads on a daily basis, nor get to visit this beautiful town–which by the way has become quite “familiar” to me as well–as part of my daily work routine, I must make sure I relish every minute of the experience, look at it with fresh eyes every day. In other words, live it like it was my last day, which… isn’t this how we’re supposed to live life anyway?