Learning to Appreciate Life

Kristen - Dayton, Ohio
Entered on August 28, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: gratitude
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe that appreciation of even the simplest and most elementary things in life is necessary to living a fulfilling life. Appreciation allows for us to grow and enjoy life. I find it tragic that it usually takes a loss of some sort for someone to appreciate what they had not done so before.

I remember one day I came home from school to my mom crying in her room, surrounded by a collection of photo albums and her poetry books. This was very uncharacteristic of my mom; she doesn’t usually let people know when she is upset. As it turns out, that day I learned that my mom is slowly going blind. It is a disease called myopic degeneration and she was diagnosed my eighth grade year. She cannot see to drive at night and seeing her grandchildren is definitely out of the picture. I was in complete shock. I knew my mom never had the best vision in the world, from the time she was in kindergarten she had what some people call coke bottle glasses. Coke bottle glasses are exceedingly thick glasses and during her time there weren’t too many people wearing them, especially in kindergarten. Thinking back on it now makes me realize that she would have rather worn those thick coke bottle glasses that everyone made fun of her for rather than to have this disease. It makes me sad to think that she won’t see my children grow up and more importantly she won’t be able to do what she is most passionate in life about, reading. I don’t think a person can quite grasp how much my mom loves to read until you see the piles of books she has stacked up in our house. She knows that public library inside out and enjoys reading in one of their comfy chairs for hours on end. Reading is her escape from reality. She doesn’t like to talk about her condition much and when she does open up about it I realize how lucky I truly am. Sometimes she tells me how scared she is about losing her eyesight and all I can really do is tell her that I am there for her. Those conversations are what allow me to appreciate things in my life such as a family, my house, soccer, and the ability to receive an education. I am proud to say that even though my mom is not going to be able to see in the future, she still appreciates what she has now and what she will still have in the future.

Appreciation is like looking through a wide-angle lens and seeing the whole auditorium instead of just the one or two people sitting in front of you. You are enabled to see everything and in turn, to learn more as you appreciate more. Appreciation is imperative to leading a fulfilling life, this I believe.