Taking it for Granted

Part I:

We take almost everything for granted: our breathing, walking, and above all – being alive.

If we were not able to breathe for two minutes, and then regained our breath  back – at that point we would not  take our breathing for granted at all, every breath we take would be a great gift and blessing, not like before, when we took our ability to breathe for granted.

If we were paralyzed from the waist down for three years, and a new operation allowed us to walk again – what would the experience of walking again be for us, compared to how it was when we took it for granted? Before we became paralyzed?

My friend came from the 1973 war witnessing his friends being killed all around him, and himself was under real danger of being killed. He said to me when he was just back, that now, just the experience of being able to walk on the street, was such a tantalizing amazing experience, he wouldn’t want it ever to stop, just the feeling of being alive! I met him a few weeks later and he admitted: “it is going away”, “I am losing it” he said, he was sliding back to take being alive for granted.

What is the alternative? To live in a constant state of wonderment concerning gifts and blessings (like being alive, being healthy, being able to breathe and being able to walk, and other gifts and blessings).

But we tend to flatten almost everything, especially those things that demand special attention or wonderment (like the gift of being alive). The dominance and control of taking things for granted make us live in a flatland, where everything is the same. Why is that? Well, for the attention and wonderment needed for the appreciation of gifts and blessings to not be a burden upon us.

Taking things for granted eases our degree of inner effort.

And here is a paradox: the more rare and precious something we meet is, the greater is the demand for inner attention and wonderment, and because of our resistance towards the extra inner effort needed to be involved in this demand – the more we take this precious thing for granted…  

One example, a special, outstanding text: A conventional essay could be appreciated more or less, but an exceptionally high or outstanding essay requires extra, deeper attention, and this is too much effort for the conventional reader, who, then, paradoxically (again), will take it for granted to decrease the demand for inner attention and effort.


Part II:

We don’t only take for granted what is special and outstanding (and thus requires extra effort) – We also take for granted things that don’t feel so good for us, for example, the level of conversation of some people when they get together –  most of the conversations are flat, banal, trivial, talking without saying anything. Mostly it is about facts and things and not about relations or feelings, and mostly it is very boring. On the whole, they stick to what is average and could not cause a dispute. Now, instead of some resistance rising in us against this waste of time on trivial matters, we go and support the legitimacy of such popular conversations, (we cooperate with them) as though this is the way it should be. So, we take this average frequent conversation (in this circumstance) mostly for granted, and it is because we don’t want to be the “party destroyer”, the odd one out, not to spoil this pretentious harmony. So we are forcing ourselves to take this boredom for granted, (we tell ourselves that most probably, this is the way it should be), without any protest, even to ourselves.

So, taking it for granted goes all the way: from precious and dear to average and meaningless. Two opposite situations, but one result: taking it for granted.


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