Aldous Huxley pointedly pointed out that “most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.” If you think about it, “infinite” is a rather extensive capacity and we‘re quite adept at utilizing that capacity to its fullest extent. Taking things for granted means that they no longer garner our attention. Out of their value to us they’ve lost their value. Because of the fact they they’ve served us quite well and that they’ve served us quite consistently, we develop the sense that they’ll always be there, or that they’re just supposed to be there. We assume that things occupy a place in our lives just because they’re supposed to occupy a place. We make things something more like an entitlement or something we’d ascribe to the norm. And so, we take things for granted.
The incongruity of it all is simply that things that should demand our attention, or are at least deserving of it are ignored. Gifts, talents and personal abilities are exercised day in and day out but aren’t seen in the exercising anymore . . . at all. Because they’re not seen, they aren’t cherished as we are quick to forget that which we’ve rendered invisible. People or resources or abilities that should be held in high regard or seen as a privilege are categorized as the stuff of ‘stuff.’ Through inattention and the amassing of whole bunch of stuff which is largely nothing more than a whole bunch of stuff, we take things for granted. That fundamentally means that it’s fallen off our radar under the pretense that it just is.
As we meander along and do that, things gradually fall unnoticed behind an invisible veil where all of these things are smack-dap in front of us but are completely invisible to us. As they fall behind the veil of taking things for granted, their presence in our lives remains entirely unchanged, yet because of their invisibility their worth or value, which is sometimes terribly immense, is lost. We walk around with precious things, and precious people, and precious resources, and precious talents that are entirely invisible and therefore ignored.
We don’t often think of actions that show us as rich; that seize the strength and wonder of our inherent humanity and cause us to do great things. We miss the fact that sometimes just getting through a typical day requires feats of strength, tenacity, courage and outright determination. Most often life’s about survival and getting ahead, if we can even pull these off. But we tend not to think that the commonplace and mundane are quite often feats of great wonder, drawing from deep within us abilities that we’ve taken for granted.
Is it possible that the mundane is really the marvelous in quiet disguise? Have you ever considered the possibility that great feats may really be nothing more than an intentional and focused use of the resources that existed within the person . . . resources that we likely have an ample and similar supply of ourselves? Have we allowed the marvelous within us to be taken for granted so that its dollar value has been degraded to pennies when in reality it’s all priceless beyond any collection of pennies regardless of how massive? And are we in a place where we need to consider all of this because we’ve underpriced and marginalized our worth through the persistent effort of taking things for granted?
Taking Things for Granted By Mental Laziness
So we’re robbed and we’re the culprits that did it. We’ve used the highly effective tool of taking things for granted. Part of our taking things for granted involves our dogged mental and emotional laziness. Things of true worth in life don’t clamor for our attention. They don’t attempt to seize the stage of our lives in some brazen display, touting their worth as they strut back and forth across that stage. Rather, the things of true worth are to be sought out, looked for, and discovered in a passionate search for the stuff of life that genuinely holds the stuff of life. It’s a rejection of all the plastic and veneers; all the things that attempt to replicate the real stuff. It takes effort to find the things of real value; great and unrelenting effort that we often don’t want to exert. Plastic and veneers are much, much easier so we’ve got loads of them. We take for granted ‘taking things for granted.’
Taking Things for Granted By Entitlement
And then there’s the whole “I’m owed” mentality. Things are just because they’re supposed to be. This whole deal we call life is obviously supposed to come with all the finery and accessories. It’s just part of the package. It’s just supposed to be. So why value something when it’s not a gift, or a treat, or a surprise, or a bonus, or just a nice addition that somebody thought would tickle our fancy? In whatever way, shape or form that extra stuff comes in, it’s a bit of icing on the cake of entitlement, but it’s not the cake. The cake is just supposed to be and so it is. Entitlement is magically toxic, tragically transforming blessings to bare-bones stuff and priceless gifts to allocated accessories that are ours solely by virtue of our birth. We take for granted ‘taking things for granted.’
Taking Things for Granted By Permission
It’s quite amazing how many things we can give ourselves permission to do. Sometimes what we give ourselves permission to do is to tolerate what we shouldn’t, which is likely the worst kind of permission we grant ourselves. Tolerating something implies that we probably shouldn’t be doing it in the first place but we’ve chosen to do it anyway. There’s a dash of ignorance and a pound or two of stupidity in a lot of the permission that we grant ourselves. There’s a turning away, a bit of ethical ‘sleight of hand’ and some mental ‘nip and tuck’ that numbs us enough so that we can pass on our integrity without really feeling that we’ve passed. So we give ourselves permission to take a whole lot of things for granted. We repeat this to the point that we take for granted ‘taking things for granted.’
Taking Things for Granted Because It’s the Norm
Sometimes we look around us and we try to find people doing the things that we’ve questioned doing. Somehow, if someone else is doing the stuff we find questionable, their actions lend whatever they’re doing just enough legitimacy to do it. If someone else is doing it, we sometimes feel that we can step over the line just enough to dabble in the behavior and then jump back to the other side of that line. So, in a world that sloughs things off, we do the same. We take for granted what those around us take for granted. They reinforce our actions and we reinforce theirs. In time we don’t even realize what we’re doing and we take for granted ‘taking things entirely for granted.’
Breaking the Habit
Magnificent living involves not taking the magnificent for granted. It’s a refusal to marginalize the wonder of life by placing it behind some veil, invisible and lost.