Appreciation: The Dying Art
Olivia of KingdomClothing
This compilation of Thursday thoughts seems to be bursting out of me. We live in a world of both instant and constant gratification. We’re therefore a bit lacking in the appreciation department. It sucks. I see it at work, at school in my little kids, at home, in the attitudes of my friends, in relationships, in myself. We’ve become a thankless society. And you know why? Because we never have to live without. We’re never really without anything we need— or even anything we really want. It’s just there. No need to be thankful for something that’s always around, right? That’s the attitude. That saying, “You don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it” is remarkably true and so relevant today. We’re so lost. So wound up in ourselves. No one is thankful just for breath anymore. I’m guilty too; I’m not exempting myself. We’re lost. It’s that inward curvature of the heart. Sometimes I think everything that’s wrong with us can be rooted back to self-centeredness. Pride. Pride kills a lot of things.
Please remember also that this is too true where I live. You may live in a completely different corner of the earth where appreciation and thankfulness are woven into every moment, and that’s wonderful. But not here. Here, it is a dying art. And I miss it.
Culture is a weird thing to me. I have always been fascinated by cultures that were different than my own. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am particularly passionate about Asian cultures, most particularly Korean culture. Whenever I’m asked “Why do you love Korean culture so much?” or even something more simple like “Why do you like Korean stuff?” my answer is always the same: I don’t know. I have absolutely no idea why I like the things I do or why I am so interested in Korean culture, and really just cultures in general. I can’t ever answer that. Because I don’t know. Sometimes I think that humans are just simply fascinated with things (other humans included) that are different than themselves, that we somehow fear the unknown or the unfamiliar, but also crave to know it at the same time. Sometimes I think we just want to expand our territory, to expand our realm of familiarity, to expand ourselves. Sometimes I think we just want to understand things we don’t understand.
I don’t know why different cultures exist, or how I’m somehow worlds different than someone simply because I was born where I was, learned the language I did, and followed the customs I was taught. When I lived in Africa, people used to tell me that they could tell I was American even before they heard me speak. I would ask them how they knew I wasn’t European or Australian or something else— how it was so easy to tell that I was specifically “American”. They said “We could just tell.” Well how? Is it the way I walk? Is it the way I carry myself? Is it my mannerisms? If so, which ones? How are they so different than other mannerisms— so different that people somehow instantaneously knew that I was of a very specific people group and that I couldn’t possibly be from any other? I didn’t get it. Sometimes my Asian friends who are first-generation (they were born here but their parents came to America from another culture) tell me “You’re more Asian than I am!” to which, I never quite know what to say. What does that mean? What does it mean to “be” something or “not be” something? I didn’t get it.
I don’t know what makes me American. Or what makes me “not-Korean” or “not-African” or “not-whatever-else”. I could come up with some weird list of “Things that Make me American” that wouldn’t really mean anything, but I still don’t think I’d get it. Culture is a weird thing. It binds people together while simultaneously separating them from others. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like— who I’d be, if different from who I am— if I was conceived by my parents here, but at the second of birth taken to Korea or someplace else and grown up completely in that other culture. What would I be? Would I be Korean? Or would I somehow still be American? Obviously, I would not ethnically be Korean, but is culture always completely tied to ethnicity? I mean, do we even really know what “ethnicity” means? Not really. I mean, I wouldn’t be American because I wouldn’t have grown up immersed in “American-ness” but I also don’t know if I’d ever fully be Korean either. It’d be weird. I don’t know. I don’t know these things.
Anyway, this is a HUGE topic that I ponder ALL of the time, and this isn’t the tip of the tip of the mountain that cultural complexity is, but it is something I was thinking about today. It’s something I think about all the time, every day, and am constantly dissecting more and more. I’d love more thoughts to add to my own. Have a good Tuesday.