Recently, my fifteen year old son, Ryder, announced to the family, “I cannot wait to get off this GOD forsaken island!!” His declaration took me by surprise, as I thought he enjoyed jumping off waterfalls with his friends, walking to the beach to body board, and going to school at the base of the stunning West Maui mountains. Before I reacted with frustration at his obvious lack of appreciation for his cushy life, I reminded myself of my similar attitude when I was fifteen and living on an island that was three miles by a quarter mile long in the Marshall Islands called Kwajalein.
By the time I was a Senior in a class of 33 kids, we were all counting down the days until we were able to get off the “Rock.” We took for granted the immense beauty of living in one of the most exquisite parts of the world. Between the incomparable crystal blue waters, first class diving and other premium water activities, we were spoiled. It wasn’t until leaving this paradise, were we able to truly appreciate the gift we had been given.
Since the advent of Facebook, I’ve been able to reconnect with my fellow Kwaj friends and read how most would give their right arm or first born (slight exaggeration) to go back to the “Rock” for a visit. So, perhaps I could understand in that moment what all my son was taking for granted. Instead of a huge eye roll, I responded with kindness and asked him to tell me of the hardships he faced with living on Maui (ranked by Conde Nast Travelers as THE BEST ISLAND in the world). Sometimes, it is easy for all of to take for granted the natural beauty of Maui, as well as other aspects of our lives—like friends, health, or family….
As we head towards Thanksgiving, let’s take some time to pause and appreciate what we may be taking for granted. Soak in the next rainbow you see and take some time to dip your toes into the ocean. Really listen to your loved one when they are speaking to you. Give thanks for being able to get out of bed and for being able to see those rainbows! Know that this day truly is a gift.