Friday, September 18, 2009

The Value of Hardship

“It is not good for all our wishes to be filled; through sickness we recognize the value of health; through evil, the value of good; through hunger, the value of food; through exertion, the value of rest.” ~ Greek Proverb

As I sat down to dinner, last night, my mouth watered the moment I laid eyes on the small feast set in front of me – spicy pork tenderloin with vegetables and a side of roasted potatoes, followed by a generous bowl of strawberries and freshly whipped cream. Having been extremely busy most of the day, food had been the last priority on my list, and by the time I finally sat down I was famished.

The moment I took the first bite, I almost shivered from the incredible sense of pleasure that cursed through my body. I ate the first few forkfuls with ravenous enthusiasm, deeply appreciating the full, bodacious flavors coming together in a perfect culinary marriage.

By the time I consumed the main course, most of the appreciation was gone with the hunger; when I finally finished my bowl of strawberries and cream, I was so full I couldn’t even entertain the thought of another bite. The feeling of hunger I had experienced prior to dinner was uncomfortable and making me feel edgy, yet it was the powerful force which triggered the heightened pleasure I felt when I got the opportunity to taste my meal.

Discomfort and lack, although undesirable, allow us the chance to appreciate comfort and abundance. I remember thinking about this concept a year ago, when I suffered from a pinched nerve in my neck. I could not turn my head, and every movement caused excruciating pain. I would have given anything in that moment to feel better; yet, when I am normally free of pain, that sense of wellbeing is taken for granted.

As humans we take everything for granted – our ability to move, to communicate, of being free from pain, hunger and oppression; quite often, we take love and life for granted.

Life storms give us the opportunity to appreciate the sunny days. When the sun shines for too long we become bored with it and no longer appreciate its warmth, but after a week of constant rain, nothing feels better than a bright blue sky.

While I cleaned the kitchen after dinner, I suddenly felt elated and grateful, not just for my blessings, but also for my woes, for if I never experienced hardship I would also never experience the deep pleasure that comes when good things finally manifest.

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