2! 4! 6! 8! Who do you underappreciate?

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I just spent over two hours of my life familiarizing myself with an editing program, (it’s my first time), and then actually editing a song for my daughter’s variety show, because it had to fit within a certain time frame.  Good grief!  One three minute song was all I needed!  I even had someone offer to do it for me but, I crave knowledge like dark chocolate.  I can never get enough.

Now I know some of my friends in this field of engineering would read this and laugh, thinking something along the lines of: “Two hours?  I would’ve had that song edited in 5 minutes!  Four, if I put my coffee down first!”  And, I have no trouble believing them.  This brings me to my point.

Appreciation.  It’s such a rare commodity these days.  We pay for something, we expect it now, no excuses, no delays.  Appreciation has fallen victim to the new age of entitlement.  Many of us are so busy either demanding services we paid good money for, or trying to ferret out why we were denied certain services we felt we deserved, we don’t stop to think of all the steps involved to make our craved product so conveniently available.

A fantastically talented musician friend of mine just posted a list on Facebook, detailing exactly what you are paying for when you hire a professional musician.  People often assume it is very expensive and over priced, “just to have the experience of live over recorded music” and yet, there is so much more to it!  People expect to benefit from years of training, good quality instruments, promotion fees, rehearsal, transportation, basic living costs to be healthy and perform to their best ability, and the list goes on. 

Music soothes the soul like nothing else!  It has the amazing effect to transport us back to a memory, or cause us to tense up when the bad guy is coming onscreen.  When my daughter was two years old, we were in the car and a dirge was playing softly.  In the midst of the dark, drawn out notes, I heard a sweet voice from the back seat say, “Mama, sad.”  People react to music and respond in a myriad of ways but very few ignore it, even if they are not consciously aware music is playing.

So, how do we keep from underappreciating people, from the barista who took extra time to shape your latte foam into something beautiful, to the musician who just shoved thousands of dollars worth of equipment into their cost effective car to travel who knows how long to play for several hours to earn a couple hundred dollars?  Here’s a challenge:

Do it yourself.  In high school, I played guitar for my youth group and spent hours teaching myself chords and keys and songs and learning from others.  I also marched in the band and finally landed first chair clarinet in concert band after many private lessons over the years.  I played my clarinet from junior high through high school and decided in order to really appreciate each musician’s effort, I needed to learn an instrument from different sections.  Did I mention my insatiable curiosity?  The Elephant’s Child has nothing on me!  I learned our school’s fight song on the tuba, the flute, the saxophone, and even gave the trombone a try. I have so much appreciation for the discipline of learning an instrument and making a career out of it.  I did not and so both of my children have taken violin for a year and have a guitar in their rooms and we have a keyboard so they can experience the art of learning.  We made the sacrifices (and still do), necessary to expose them to dance and sports and art classes and adventures of camping in a tent and fishing and life in general.

When my children ask for something, I try to instill in them the value of what they are expecting.  They help me bake from scratch, hopefully showing them, it takes time to create something out of nothing.  Desire of brownies to tangible chocolatey goodness on their tongues takes time.  Standing by while they create their own school projects with little physical involvement or verbal input from me is a lesson in patience and value for both of us! 

At restaurants when they are impatient for food, we discuss just what that food had to go through to become our meal, from seedling (or whatever origin is appropriate), to harvest, to processing, to presentation.  Then we practice common courtesy by looking the server in the eye and thanking them sincerely for the part they played in safely delivering our food.  No, this doesn’t happen every time, but it’s good to have goals, right?

How can you slow down and avoid the pitfalls of instant gratification and demand?  Who can you thank for being so diligent in their craft, they are a pleasure to experience?  I’d love to hear your stories and methods, leave a comment if you like!

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