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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 8, 2016

Reminders trigger gratitude

By Steph Tahtinen

By STEPH TAHTINEN

Mt. Pleasant News

I’m no James Garfield. History tells us that the 20th president could write in Greek with one hand simultaneously writing in Latin with the other.

There are a few reasons I am incapable of replicating this skill. First, I don’t know Greek. Nor do I know Latin, come to think of it. Most importantly, though, I am fairly incapable of completing any task requiring fine motor skills with my left hand.

I discovered this fact on Monday when my right arm was rendered slightly useless due to some sort of sprain or strain in my right elbow that affected the muscles in my forearm and my ability to grab and hold things.

Basically, it hurt to use my arm. I’m not entirely sure what happened, or even when it happened. All I know is that sometime before I went to bed on Sunday night it was hurting, and it still hurt Monday morning when I woke up. It wasn’t that bad if I kept it bent at a certain angle, just sore and awkward.

This made my Monday rather interesting as I held my right arm very gently and ladylike in my lap and tried to use my left hand for everything. Writing with a pen was impossible, but it turns out I can operate a computer mouse with my left hand. It just takes extreme concentration.

So does using a fork. I ate lunch with a coworker who found it amusing to watch me slowly and deliberately spear my food. At least she didn’t notice my horrible aim where I hit myself in the nose with a piece of broccoli.

It was amazing how helpless and uncoordinated I felt. It also made me realize how much I took my right arm for granted.

I think we all have a tendency to take things for granted. It’s not until something is gone that you realize how lucky you were to have it in the first place. This could be applied to a myriad of things in our lives, whether it is the roof over our heads, the food at our tables, family and friends, health or even the use of all four limbs and all five senses.

There are many people in the world facing life without these things. Yet, how many of us who have them take them for granted? I know that I do. I don’t take the time that I should to appreciate them, and it took an injured arm for me to realize how grateful I am to have two.

By Tuesday my arm was mostly back to normal. It was just slightly sore and stiff when I moved it in certain directions. For the next few days I appreciated being able to wash my hair, take notes and even start my car without pain.

Yet, although I was filled with gratitude on Tuesday, I’m sure that I’ll completely forget about it by Monday, if I haven’t done so already. I’ll be taking my arm for granted once again without giving it a second thought.

Because that’s the thing about gratitude — it’s temporary. As horrible as it sounds, gratitude only lasts while we’re reminded to be grateful. It doesn’t exist on its own. Either consciously or subconsciously, gratitude doesn’t happen unless we realize we have something to loose or that our lives could be different. ­And once that reminder’s gone, we’re back to taking that thing for granted until we’re reminded again.

So here’s a reminder for this week. Sit down to think about all of the blessings in your life and be grateful.