August in the Texas Hill Country means temperatures above 100 degrees F. Hot. Dry. Often not a cloud in the sky. The sun doing what it does. But most people don't really pay attention to the sun. It's hard to look at, actually painful and dangerous to look at directly. So we go about our days with the vague sense that "the sun is out," meaning it's daytime.
We take it for granted.
We look up at the light blue expanse we call "the sky." But what we're looking at is nothing - the black void. It seems blue from Earth's surface because of how sunlight illuminates the gases in our delicate, thin atmosphere. "The sky" is actually the incredibly thin layer of air we breathe.
We breathe our atmosphere all day long, every day. So of course it's easy to take it for granted. But the more you understood what our atmosphere is, how fragile it is, the less you're inclined to take it for granted.
We notice that it's up there, then we look away, taking it for granted.
When I lived in Virginia, a lush, beautiful place with diverse habitats, I was aware that there were birds in our yard. I had seen larger birds on the shore. I could identify a cardinal and a grackle. But I didn't pay much attention. I had no idea that there were over 50 species of birds that came to our yard. Later, I learned to identify birds and now I pay attention. Here in the Hill Country we have a list of 90 species of birds that we've seen in our yard.
I used to take birds for granted, but now I watch them with fascination. The other day we had a sprinkler working in the back yard, and the birds came to it to bathe. As I watched I noticed this colorful bird enjoying the spray:
|2011 photo by Kathleen Scott, used with permission.|
We have a choice. It's easy to take what's happening around us for granted. We can think of everything around us as ordinary. We can live our lives without noticing or appreciating the wonders and the miracles.
Or we can show up for them. We can pay attention to our star. Our precious moon. The air we breathe. The diverse creatures that struggle for life alongside us every day. Learn more about these wonders. Learn to appreciate them for what they really are.
It's a thrilling way to avoid wasting your life.
Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength .