A favorite line that I often try to remind myself comes from Albert Einstein: "You can live every day as if everything is a miracle, or nothing is." I love this line because it really speaks of gratitude, especially for the little things in life that we so often take for granted - things like our appliances, our cars, our phones. These instruments of modern life are expected to be perfect, working all the time and often impatience and frustration ensues if they aren't. Yet, with myself included, we often take these little things for granted and forget the utter miracle that our lives are in the modern age.
I woke up today and had some extra time, so I packed the rest of the dirty dishes in the dishwasher so that it could run while I was away. I thought to myself, "Holy smokes I put so many dishes in there, and this little thing just cleans them for me." What an idea. A century ago how much time I would have wasted having to do it all myself, and here we are able to have the dishes get washed by a machine.
On the way to work I thought about my car - how I literally just go sit down somewhere, hold my foot down and then arrive somewhere else a little bit later. I have a carriage with more horses than an emperor would have just a few hundred years ago. How this was a modern commodity, how I could listen to music coming out of the walls of this thing and it turned a journey that would take me half a day on foot into one that lasted only half an hour.
Even when I went to the bathroom at work, I found myself staring at the metal railing bar by the toilet and wondering how crazy it was that we could take metal from the ground, lump it together, shape it and make things with it - all when our species came here with just rocks and grass.
Life is truly a miracle, and miracles are all around us every day - it is just a matter of perspective and whether you choose to see it that way. I was talking to one of my students about how small the world is these days - your phone can connect you to FaceTime someone halfway across the world when just two hundred years ago it would take months to have the same experience. Everything we have is a miracle. My laptop is a miracle, my desk, my printer, even my shoes. If you find yourself frustrated with technology or the hustle and bustle of modern life, take a moment to slow down and remind yourself what a miracle it is that these things are even available to you - the standard of comparison isn't technology running without flaws, it's being in the Savannah running around with a stick and rock in your hand. And there are still plenty of people in that category in the world.
A busy life can beget forgetfulness to appreciate the little things, because when we are in the rush of constantly doing, it is easy to forget to slow down, be present and let the miracle of that experience sink in for a moment.
And when we do, it truly is a miracle.