You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.Marcus Aurelius – “Meditations” Book 1
I have a crisp, green apple here with your name on it.
Tell me, if you would, what would make my crisp, green apple taste its sweetest?
Should I hand it to you immediately after forcing you to finish a hearty five-course meal, whilst you lay on my sofa in a food coma with not only your belt unclasped but also your trouser button undone, to ease the pressure from your expanded belly?
Or should I hand it to you after you’ve spent three days walking in the hot sun with nothing to eat, not even a lonesome blueberry?
Call me crazy, but I have a sneaking suspicion you’d appreciate the crisp, green apple more after the three days of hunger than the five-course meal.
Let me come clean: I don’t really have a crisp, green apple, and if I did, I’d eat it myself. I’m just trying to make the point that when you have an abundance of something, it’s difficult to appreciate it. The path of least resistance is to take it for granted, whatever it is.
But go without it, become intimate with its lack, and the moment you get some, you’ll effortlessly appreciate the hell out of it. Because you’ve experienced the contrast.
It works with crisp, green apples. And it works with life and death, too.
If you want more from life, don’t waste your time trying to appreciate it more. You might manage it for an afternoon, here and there. But the path of least resistance is to take it for granted. Do you think a fish appreciates the water it swims in? Of course not. It doesn’t even notice it.
No. If you want more from life, then remind yourself as often as possible that one day it will end. That’s a good start. But if you want to get even more for your money, then remind yourself that not only will it end one day, that day could well be today.
Get as intimate as you can with your death. And watch your appreciation for life go through the roof.