Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Appreciate and Enjoy!

Last night I curiously tried a "new fruit", a pamelo. It was large and looked luscious. I dug in my fingers and with great effort started peeling off the skin with the rind. There was such thick skin and rind that by the time I was done, about 10 minutes later, to my surprise the actual fruit was just about the size of a standard ruby red grapefruit - far smaller than expected. It also tasted like a slightly toughened ruby red grapefruit. The experience prompted the following thought, "I could have spent two minutes peeling a ruby red grapefruit with just as satisfying results. Why is all this extra effort necessary to achieve the same basic effect?"

Truthfully, the Creator has the ability to easily provide us with everything we need and want. Why do we have to exert effort, toil and often wade through a series of difficult experiences before attaining our goals? What role does human hardship play in the Creator's plan?

It seems likely that one of the answers is simply the word, "appreciation".

Appreciation is the fruit of hardship. When we experience difficulties along the way towards attaining our goals, we have also attained a deeper appreciation for those goals. A person who inherited a fortune usually does not appreciate it nearly as deeply as a person who toiled for his/her fortune. Similarly, a person who has found relationships easily usually, does not appreciate relationships on as deeply as someone who has been challenged in that area of life.

Part of any experience in life is the conscious appreciation of the experience. It could be said that what we did not appreciate we did not truly experience. A person who mindlessly ate ice cream doesn't truly experience the ice cream. However, if s/he ate the ice cream with deep appreciation then every morsal was bliss.

What difficulties and challenges add to an experience is the "appreciation factor". Without this detail every moment of life is literally tasteless, has no flavor.

Imagine an earthly visitation by a space alien whose species is naturally agile and acrobatic. Jumpinging 30 feet in the air followed by a series of mid-air flips and landing upright takes him about as much effort as it would take for a heathly human being to take a shallow breath.

It happens to be that his space craft lands discreetly in a forest besides a large circus tent. From behind the trees, he notices people filing into the tent. Feeling curious, he discreetly follows them and discovers a hiding place to view what's about to happen.

In this circus the acrobats are first to entertain the waiting crowd. A midst heavy clapping and cheering they perform their arial antic. The confused alien has no idea what the cheering is all about because for him these feats are nothing because he easily outperform the acrobats. He's clueless about how difficult acrobatic are for humans. Therefore, he has no "appreciation" for he just saw and certainly did not enjoy it.

On the other hand, the human audience was enthralled. They paid good money to see this performance. Their satisfaction comes from having some "appreciation" for just how difficult acrobatics truly are.

Appreciation allows us to taste the sweetness in an experience. Going back to the opening story, because of the effort it took to peel the pamelo I certainly enjoyed it a lot more than I would of enjoyed a ruby red grapefruit - even though for the most part both fruits are alike. My heightened enjoyment had nothing to do with the biology of taste. It was all simply in the appreciation evoked by increased toil.

With this background in mind, one of the greatest spiritual mysteries can be brought closer to human understanding. Why is it that though the Creator loves each of us infinitely more than we can ever love ourselves, we have such difficulty feeling even a glimmer of His love?

Perhaps an answer is that if we have automatic access to feeling the bliss of His love, we would probably never taste it because we would not have built up sufficient appreciation for it. So He made us toil for this experience through a variety of devotional activities: meditation, prayer, charity, kindness, commands, study, character improvement, etc. This way we've developed the appreciation necessary to taste the love, whether on earth or in paradise.

4 comments:

  1. The way is often difficult and the path sometimes hard to find (even harder to stay on the path or in the Light.) I believe our Creator allowed this so we'll appreciate and keep it once we find. Nothing is appreciated if given freely without our overcoming. When I finally return Home, I'll forever be thankful evil has been eradicated from my life! I also think we'll have some adverse experiences, even in the afterlife, so we'll continue to appreciate. We'll appreciate the warm of the fireplace after trekking in the snow.

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  2. Trying to put Angela Hoffberg said...March 1, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    Still haven't figured out how to put: Angela said...

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  3. Sorry, Choni, I just now figured it out.

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  4. Thank you for your illuminating comment.

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