Appreciations (1) …why appreciate?
May 6, 2009
While this is a new theme for me, it is not new for humanity. Various people have recommended gratitude to us. While approving, I’m not moved by gratitude because of its links to quasi-religious formulas like ‘blessings’. I discovered that there are wonderful things to acknowledge, celebrate, reward by remarking…things which I notice but leave in the innards of my awareness. Often, reporting them makes others feel new interest, insight, desire, awareness, and sustains mine along the way. Building the latter resources is my primary aim here. If I try to write what I appreciate I am forced to get it together in some affecting way which meets my own experience and has a hope of offering that to others. For me, the process is always illuminating in unexpectable ways.
I also undertake this venture because my sceptical side is tuned to the problematic, the doubtful,…which leaves me tending to underestimate the certain, the sure, the light and light-hearted. Conscious countering of this tendency is possible, but I never get much better at automatically reaching for a star rather than the scar. Hopefully, like wearing seatbelts because it’s the law, I’ll get naturalised into appreciation with never a thought of deviating from it as normal.
In another frame, I am a late life convert to story as a way of making and finding meaning. I find myself telling stories to therapy and coaching clients, and using them to structure activities for leadership events. These are usually real stories, not ones I’ve picked up somewhere in the training ether. I don’t do storytelling well unless it arises spontaneously in the work with clients.
I have friends who are really good at this – the kind of good you can get by trying a lot and watching others who’ve been doing something longer and better than oneself. So, this is an emulating initiative for me, too. I’m slow to allow the possibility that someone else has thought of something useful to do and developed it before me (though I know perfectly well that they do so).
Further, this is not an anger driven event (not to preclude the possibility that I’ll also find myself appreciating some matters arising from angers). It came to me in a moment of appreciation, from the perspective of which I noticed I had been appreciating more over recent years. At the moment I can’t remember the original appreciation. Maybe it was a search of Appreciative Inquiry which I was trying to appreciate against the grain of an original exposure some years ago where AI became a cover for being ‘nice’ and not looking at hard things except appreciatively (or so it seemed at the time). Hard things can be appreciated, but they have to be acknowledged first. There goes that problem seeker again.
A recent example of something I appreciated was revisiting sites we have walked and skied for decades after the Victorian Black Saturday fires of early February ‘09. This was a reality shifting event. There’s nothing like seeing the remnants of natural and human landscapes soon after a fire. We’ve done it before at various stages of recovery, but never so close to home and so much of those landscapes ones which we treasured by repeated visits. See next Appreciations for my impressions.