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It’s a funny thing, appreciation. Not funny “ha ha”, but (and maybe more to the point) it’s funny because of how elusive it is sometimes.  Now, I’m not talking about prostrating oneself and chanting, “I’m not worthy!”—I’m simply talking about a quiet appreciation for the things that happen around you and me every day that make our lives easy to navigate. Appreciation by definition is “to recognize the full worth of”.  It doesn’t say anything about having to voice it, but why not?  Why not, indeed?

Usually it seems to be drowned out by the endless yammering of people complaining.  I witness it daily as our talented associates work to keep a clean, well-organized store, stocking it and ringing up our loyal customers, retrieving wayward shopping carts and spritzing the broccoli, only to hear a loud harrumph as somebody loudly complains.  “This cashier is SO SLOW,” they’ll say.  Or, “These employees are WAY too good looking,” I’ll sometimes hear.

Complaints are as common as summer rain in Florida.  We’re ALL guilty though, right? I mean, even if you fancy yourself as a “non-complaining” humanoid, you still often times, quietly, grudgingly, feel like somebody has to do SOMETHING  about this shenanigans.  And I’m not even going to say something so rash as to say it’s misplaced  or not deserved. Why exactly WAS your water never refilled, the stain not removed, the pothole not filled, or your driveway not blown clean of grass clippings?

Some take it even further, voicing their boisterous opinions IN CAPITAL LETTERS on a favorite social media platform for the world to see, sit up, take notice, and hopefully congratulate you on your duty as a citizen to protect the innocent masses from the overcooked pasta at so-and-so’s restaurant.

I understand reviews, and like everybody else, I look at and rely on reviews.  I'm just saying thank goodness there are enough of us out there that put pen to paper (or fingers to touchscreens) when things are GOOD.  Like Christmas presents, it warms the hearts of the receivers almost as much as the givers.  There’s nothing quite like getting kudos.  We crave it.  I crave it.

Which brings me to appreciation—which, BTW, is the title of this musing, and honestly when I started writing, I didn’t intend to go off on a tangent about reviews, but there you are.  I don’t know where I’m going when I start these things.

In the last post I challenged the world-at-large to an exercise: See what portion of your hard-earned money that you spend at local businesses in a month.  I challenge you again: How often, in the course of your daily life, are you reliant upon another humanoid to do something that you can’t? Or won’t? Or even if you can, maybe you just want it done FOR you.  Obviously, there is nothing wrong with any of this— it’s what we do today.

We rely upon others for most of the goods and services that we desire daily. I can’t fix my malfunctioning car, nor can I build a device that fits in my pocket that allows me to play chess, buy a vacuum, or communicate with the WORLD.  But I know what I can do, and I usually endeavor to do these few things to the best of my abilities (although admittedly March 18th might be a tough one!)  Anyways, I challenge you to recognize those things and see them for what they and then appreciate them, preferably loudly and in their general direction.  Or maybe on that social media platform….or both!

Once upon a time, the hunter-gatherers of our species had to do it all.  Everything!  There weren’t yet Foot Lockers, TGI Fridays, and Primary Care physicians, much less cobblers, cooks, and doctors.  We have evolved—boy, have we evolved. We have industrialized. We have vertically integrated. And now, we actually rely on other humans for about 99% of what we require in life—we NEED each other!  If you take a step back and look the partnership we have with each other, it’s actually kind of amazing.  Alex my barber is a great guy.  He owns and operates a stellar men’s barbershop in Fort Myers.  I appreciate that he at least TRIES to make me look good.  The dude can cut hair like he was born holding scissors and a razor, but he can’t fly an airplane when he wants to go visit his family back in Jersey.  For that he needs a pilot.  And guess what?  Most pilots couldn’t cut hair if their lives depended on it. But I digress…

Back to my challenge—just take a moment to see the things that happen around you to make your life easier.  Notice our well-stocked shelves at Sunflower and the folks that work hard (and take pride) to bring out new products every day and put them on those shelves, keeping things clean and neat for you and others to browse.  After all, those same stockers probably visit your businesses and require your products or expertise. We all witness and can recognize the incompetence of others.  Or maybe the lackluster indifference to which they apply themselves to their job.  My challenge is to recognize and appreciate, quietly or otherwise, those beautiful moments when people make your life better.

Musings of Paul, the tallest of the Pauls

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