This month I’m writing from the future. It’s Emily from Christmas 2014. Don’t ask how — just be grateful I’m not warning you of the apocalypse. No, this trip has a much more benign reason. Here are eleven things you’re going to take for granted if you’re not careful.
1. That moment of contentment. when you’re done cooking, done eating, and you feel satisfied, at peace, even complete. No one in your family is fighting. You don’t have to worry about dishes or work or the kids, at least for this one moment. If you blink, if you rush it, you will miss the contentment of a good food coma. Don’t take it for granted.
2. The signaling for a new year. Another 365 days have passed, another 12 months. We are one year closer to our deaths, one year closer to graduation, marriage, divorce. One year further away from our births, from our parents’ generation, from our old selves. We are one step closer to a new world, a new humanity. Whatever is going on in your life, even if 2014 depresses you, don’t take it for granted.
3. That feeling of accomplishment. In the next year you will accomplish something. Instead of focusing on it though you will focus on the failures. The lows. That’s not the way to deal with it! You did it. You did something amazing. I would tell you what it is, but I want you to surprise yourself.
4. That person you love. You know who I’m talking about — for some of us, they know about our love. For others, they’re ignorant or maybe they don’t know just how much you love them. They need to know. Enjoy that person. Let them know how amazing they are and how much you appreciate them.
5. The resiliency of the human spirit. I think Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, narrated by Death, said it best: “It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on…” How do we keep going, sometimes in the face of such terrible things?
6. The ingenuity of the human mind. Think of all we’ve done in the past few years… the past few decades… even the past few centuries. We are ever creating, ever inventing, ever loving, ever building. That potential is in your mind, the potential to be, to create, to grow. You can speak language, make up a story, understand the abstract. You have the same wiring the geniuses of old (and modern day) had.
7. The sun that shines on all of us. The sun doesn’t know class or race or age or gender. It keeps us all alive. It spurs on growth, brings plants to life. It keeps us warm, and also withholds that warmth part of the year. Everything around us, the teeming life on this Earth, the way the rock beneath our feet turns and goes on — how can we not be awe-inspired everyday?
8. The words you’re reading right now. Words are power. They can bring life or death. We have a language capacity that no other animal has, and you have the special ability to read English. You can take letters and form words and create sentences. You can inspire nations. You can design entire worlds. You can communicate across time and space with simple words.
9. The heart beating in your chest. Every second, your body is pumping blood into your veins. Every breath you take in, every motion, it all depends on such a fragile ecosystem, and yet here you are. Some of us are healthier than others, and some bodies don’t work as well as others, but it’s here. It’s breathing, beating, persevering, and you don’t even have to do anything!
10. The senses that let you experience the world. You don’t live in a void. You have something to connect you to the world: sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste, or, if you’re lucky, all five. This is real, and you can say, “I can taste this meal. I can see that child. I can hear my voice. I can smell her perfume. I can touch him.”
11. Me. No, not me specifically, but what I represent: the future. The promise of tomorrow. You live in a timeline. You can think of the future, you can make plans, you can see into oblivion and say, ‘Yes.’
All right, I’m done being sappy. Enjoy your new year. You won’t regret it.