EVAN REN: Sometimes a tough experience can have some value

I’ve never been very good at appreciating the little things. You know, like being able to feed myself, shower, go to the bathroom or get out of bed without assistance.

They didn’t even register on my radar.

They were like “automatics” — things that were so routine and so mundane that they didn’t warrant any thought. 

That is, until I needed help doing them. 

In case you haven’t heard, I’m coming off a tough experience — one that saw me hospitalized for eight days with pneumonia (not coronavirus). 

A sniffle brought home from Lubbock on March 7 had become a full-blown cold by March 8. A day later, I awoke, convinced I was drowning. By that afternoon, I was checked in to Hendricks Medical Center in Abilene, where I would remain, largely bedridden, for more than a week. 

To call it unpleasant is a gross understatement. But, at least I was given time to reflect — on the things I had, the things I could still do and on the people in my life I didn’t appreciate enough. 

When I got home on Tuesday, I sat on my back porch, throwing a ball for my dog when I noticed that everything seemed a little nicer than it had been a week earlier. 

As clichéd as it may sound, I could smell the grass in the backyard. I could hear the birds singing. Even my sworn enemies, the neighborhood squirrels, looked as though they came out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Some 48 hours later, I’ve yet to find anything to gripe about. Which, according to my wife, is an all-time record for me. 

I can’t say it’s a permanent change, but I hope it is. 

I hope, years from now, I can still find beauty in the simple things life has to offer. A kind word. A playful pup. Mowing the lawn. A blue jay in my pear tree. Or even one of my wife’s lousy movies she makes me watch. 

All of this rates above laying in a hospital bed, staring at the ceiling, with tubes and wires plugged in to each arm. It certainly rates above having no privacy and requiring assistance simply to make it to the commode or shower. 

Yeah, it was a rough week. 

This knot head was waiting to greet me when I returned home.

But in the process, I did learn that work doesn’t always have to be the road to peace of mind. And believe me, I’m guilty of consistently choosing that avenue. 

There is beauty out there, if we simply take a few minutes to notice it. And perhaps, therein, lies the true key to contentment. 

A long time ago, someone told me there were two keys to happiness: Appreciate what you have and always give yourself something to look forward to. 

Through work, I have the latter covered. Through the hand of God, I’ve begun to notice everything else. 

Thank you, everyone, for all of the kind words and prayers over the past week. 

It’s good to be back.

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