The Profundity of Everyday Things
I worked with this guy, call him Josh (not his real name), for a few years. He was a bit younger than me, and after he had been t at the company for about 2 years, I became his manager. In an effort to get to know him better, as I like to do for my team, I took him to lunch.
Josh had served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, and had been in combat situations on several occasions. He had seen an IUD blow up a truck. He had been part of a firefight with some insurgents who came out of nowhere. He’d been in situations that many of us can only imagine. So I asked him something I’m always curious about.
“Aside from whatever tactical things you had to do in the moment in battle, what else was going through your mind?” I asked him.
He smiled and laughed. “It sounds dumb, but in situations like that, I just wanted to be back at the barracks, complaining about the mattresses and the terrible food. Or back home, swearing at my lawnmower because it won’t start. I appreciated my small problems that had seemed so big at the time.”
I understood exactly what he meant. When we face really big, out-of-control problems — like the kind that bring us face to face with death — we suddenly appreciate the mundane stuff of everyday life.
It’s funny that we use that phrase “everyday life”. We use it like there is some other kind of life. But in fact, all there is is just “everyday life”. Not only that, but the bits and pieces of “everyday life” are actually really great. But sometimes it takes the threat of never again having one of those mundane moments of “everyday life” to make us appreciate just how much we appreciate the life they are a part of.
That conversation with Josh helped me realize something that I still try to remember regularly: You’re only as successful as your ability to appreciate the mundane “everyday” things. When something threatens to take them away from you forever, you suddenly realize how much you should’ve been appreciating them.
Two Notes on Appreciation
Two things to note here. First, by appreciate, I want to make it clear what I mean…