When something is taken away, or about to go away, we want it more.

After living at the lake since early June, I have to leave the cool weather, high altitude, and beautiful green forests for the excessive temperatures of Texas. I’m clinging to every last moment, sitting here on the dock and filling my lungs with air so pure it cannot be described. 

I close my eyes and listen to the lapping of water against the dock, the wings of eagles as they swoop overhead (yes, you can actually hear them because it’s so quiet here), and the frantic call of the loons to warn their families about the winged threat overhead. 

What’s new becomes routine, barely noticed, until the threat of disappearance. 

The Threat of Loss

This week our little dog Chewy had to “go under” for a necessary but minimal procedure, yet we were warned that there was a slight chance he might not come out of the anesthesia. Though he already gets lots of attention, the night before we were all treating him like we might never see him again. The fear of loss made us pay attention to how meaningful he is to us. He recovered, and he will get more attention than usual for a few days, till we get used to him being back again.

Difficult Relationships

Sometimes the fear of loss slaps us in the face to get our attention. I can remember difficult relationship moments when the fear of loss was enough to change my behavior. Even though I may have been told time and time again, I had not paid attention until it was almost too late. And sometimes, it was too late. 

What or who do we take for granted that is always there? 

What are the signals others have been sending that we’ve ignored?

In what ways do we need to change now, so the threat of loss does not occur?

I pay a lot of attention to my kids, but knowing they are off to college in a week has made me step up and spend more time with them this week. Why have I not done this the whole time?

We’re told to count our blessings. But what if we were told to ask ourselves if there is any risk of losing our blessings?

How would we behave differently?

Chainsaw to the Chest

Last week I received a call from one of my dearest and closest friends, who shared that he was going in for major open heart surgery. Of course I told him I loved him. But as far as showing my appreciation in every call through the year, I had not. What if instead of a call of a pending surgery, I instead received a call that he had moved on to a better place? Would I have regrets? 

Since the great lockdown over the past three years, I’ve increased my mentions of appreciation, because we’ve all lost people we love and appreciate, and none of us know who or what is next.

Sometimes I intend to call someone but don’t get around to it, then find I’ve lost my opportunity. I don’t want that ever to be the case again.

What if you and I started to ramp up our level of appreciation for those around us?
What if we went out of our way to spend more meaningful time?

What if we ignored less and listened with more intention?

Thankfully I get to return to the lake after my time away this week and get a few more glorious weeks there. But that could change, which is why I’m in full appreciation mode today.

Let’s increase our appreciation, starting today.

Eric Rhoads

PS: I just read about an interesting study about appreciation. Two groups of kids were given a task. Afterward, Group One was given “Intelligent” praise, about how smart they are. Group Two was given “Effort” praise, for the amount of effort they gave the task.

On the next task, Group One did worse than before, and Group Two did better. Scientists say praise for effort is more effective than praise for being smart, because being smart makes kids assume they don’t have to put in as much effort.

PS 2: Tomorrow I fly most of the day, returning to Austin for a week of hosting my online art event called Pastel Live. Tuesday is rehearsal day, and Wednesday is our Essential Techniques Day, followed by three more days of the world’s finest pastel artists teaching their craft. It’s a brilliant way to take your first step as an artist, or to grow by trying something new and different. Oh, and the price will more than double after midnight tonight. PastelLive.com