Living in the same place for many years, we become complacent, comfortable, and even jaded. And in the space where life and routine is upended, we tend to complain. We want it to go back to the way it was. “Missing the old ways” is so common to humans, that we even have (at least) one ancient example of it from thousands of years ago.
“[The Children of Yisrael] said to Moshe. ‘Was it because there weren’t enough graves in Mitsrayim that you brought us out to die in the desert? Why have you done this to us, bringing us out of Mitsrayim?’”
In Shemoth 14:11 the Yisraelites had marched out of their bondage only to find that the new digs required a different kind of work and responsibility. Even though they were more than able-bodied, they complained. By looking to the past, they lost sight of the present. They failed to embrace the fact that they were now free individuals with a Promised Land to inhabit. And even when they caught a glimpse of it, instead of focusing on what the land had to offer—plentiful food and water there for the taking— they focused on the negatives.
When I first moved to Florida, everything there was new, the people, the culture of the Deep South and the landscape. Everything was a marvel. It would have been easy to bemoan all that I didn’t have. For two and a half decades, I lived with the leaf changes of fall, the deep snows of white winters, and soft green lawn grass.
Instead of complaining about the lack of color in fall, I enjoyed to extended summers. Instead of snow, I was grilling in the backyard in December. I stopped looking at what I didn’t have, and focused on what I did have: beaches, more sunny days than not, oceans, and palm trees.
What this means for you
What the last year and a half has taught me is that appreciating what is in front of me and having sense of wonder is a choice. The future will require different work and responsibility.
Right now, I’m grateful for the remnants of what I remember and have of my old life, but I’m also amazed and excited about at all the changes.
A sense of awe can be cultivated. The coming year will bring even more changes. But by being grateful for what you have, you can enjoy the present moment. Time is the one thing that we cannot get back. I’m challenging myself to look for the wonder in every day and be excited about life. Why don’t you join me?