I was wondering one day: What if the moon rose only once every 100 years? Wouldn't I want to be awake all night looking at it? What if flowers bloomed only once in my lifetime? Wouldn't I be out there taking selfies with the tulips? I don't do either of these because my mind perceives each of these natural phenomena as ordinary.
We see things as ordinary when our senses and minds become used to them. Things that are extraordinary, on the other hand, defy natural law or are rare. What is ordinary, compared with extraordinary, varies from person to person. A Neanderthal, for example, would see a space shuttle as a miracle. My 4-year-old child routinely flatters me with, "Dad, how did you do that?" when I lift 20 pounds or scale 4 feet in one jump. To her, these feats are miraculous.
A normal electrocardiogram may be a boring sight to an experienced cardiologist, but for a 50-year-old man with chest pain, that normal electrocardiogram is extraordinarily comforting. An empty, dirty bowl in a sink isn't particularly attractive, but if it shows that your child, who is recovering from a severe illness, had her first full meal, the empty bowl would be a divine sight.
Looking at the inanimate as precious is the first step toward training your brain to treat everything — and everyone — around you with greater respect. The man in front of you is no longer a means to an end. He is a dad, a husband, a son, a brother, a friend, a cousin, a grandchild, a neighbor and a co-worker. Just like you, he has helped others and has struggled with self-esteem and worries.
Expanding your imagination, you can think about how far he has traveled to be with you and where he will go after he drives on. This moment with him is precious, worthy of your deeper attention. When you stitch several of these moments together, you create your day. When you find meaning in what is in front of you, your days join together to gift you a life full of meaning.
Tonight, try looking at the moon as if it were your first time seeing it. And there is nothing wrong with taking a selfie with the tulips.