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So let’s scale it down a bit. Seeing things on TV I think is unreal. It gets worse when I use Google-earth and track around the globe. The pictures of the earth, taken by astronauts, leave many warbling about how wonderful it looks from space, but I find it leaves me cold. It is too unreal. So let’s scale it down again.

I’ve been on a cruise ship out at sea with nothing in sight but somehow that didn’t make me wonder at the size of the ocean. Perhaps if I was in a smaller boat that might help. Something that did leave me gasping in respect of their size was the Canadian Rockies – awesome! I suspect that other big mountain ranges around the world may have a similar effect.

But it’s funny isn’t it, all these things seem academic and largely leave me unmoved, which is more than I can say about standing a few feet away from a rhino in a zoo. Giraffes are pretty awesome too for a different reason, and of course so are elephants. Big horses, I’ve found can have a similar effect. Power and weight, I think it is with animals.  Now I’ve seen on film a large swarm of ants – pretty scary. And I’ve also seen a large swarm of bees – likewise scary. Little creatures in large numbers!

But I think all these things are, in reality, pretty academic; interesting to speculate about but beyond that.... well! The really ‘big things’ in life have nothing to do with size. One of the biggest things, which I’m sure most of us take for granted is sight – the ability to see the incredible variety in this world around us. I’m sure most of us take our sight for granted – until it starts to fail.

Perhaps hearing is another of those ‘big things’ we take for granted – until it also starts to go. Memory, I am sure, is another of those ‘big things’ we take no notice of until we grow old and it starts going.  Health and wholeness is yet again something else I’m sure most people take for granted until old age ambles up with its accompanying difficulties. Obviously (well it should be obvious but often isn’t) life itself is one of the ‘big things’ but again most of us take it for granted until there is a threat of it being removed.

Yes, the really big things are those things that mean so much to us, which we probably take for granted for most of our lives, until old age helps us realise the wonder of what we had for so long without realising it. When I was thirty I took for granted physical well-being, the fact that I could go out into the garden on a Saturday morning at eight o’clock in the Summer and work solidly through the day until nine thirty when the light started failing. I did do that, but even the thought of that today makes me feel tired! That is what aging is about. Why didn’t anyone tell me back then; perhaps I might have appreciated it more.

The trouble is that, as the old adage goes, familiarity breeds contempt.  I watch artists at work and marvel at their abilities and they shrug off my comments with, “Oh, it’s nothing.” No it’s not, it’s a big thing this creative ability. All of the gifts, talents and abilities that we have and which we enjoy through life – writing, singing, composing, knitting, wood working, painting and lots more – they are actually big things that we take for granted. If you doubt what I say, go and be with a mentally disabled person for any length of time and then appreciate what you have.

With such things must go friendship and love. When you have a good friend, it is so easy to take them for granted whether they are our closest loved one or simply someone who’s been there in the background of our lives for so long. Loneliness is another ‘big thing’ but that is something most of us would rather not have. Being taken for granted I think also falls into this category of ‘big things’ and perhaps we don’t realise it until someone stops and say something like, “Thank you so much for being there. I do appreciate all you do.”  Suddenly we feel good. Love in the form of a little grand child who runs up and gives you a big hug is a big thing.

I’m sure there are many more ‘big things’ in life we could think about, things that can mean so much, especially when they aren’t there.  How much better it is to appreciate all these things and have a life of thankfulness and gratefulness. Let’s not wait until they have gone. How I appreciate the sun and a blue sky after a week of grey and leaden skies, but do I have to wait for a period of grey to appreciate the blue sky. No longer!

Quote: “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognising and appreciating what we do have.”
(Source: Frederick Keonig )

18. The Big Things of Life

A while ago I wrote about the little things in life. It only seems sensible to think about the big things. Let’s stretch our minds and think first of all about big physical things. I suppose the biggest you can get is space. Astronomers seem to be working hard at making us feel that everything is within reach but however hard they try, I still get overwhelmed by the concepts that come out of their mouths. The sun is big enough but when they tell me that it’s a small star, I wonder what a big star must be like. Then they talk about our solar system and about how it is just one of possibly millions of similar systems. At that point I realise that my mind turned off about ten seconds ago because such sizes leave me reeling. In fact when I really think about it, I start getting scared at how small I am in the bigger way of things.