Sunrises and surprises.
“An individual dies when he ceases to be surprised. I am surprised every morning that I see the sunshine again.” - Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel was a philosopher, activist and rabbi who was unafraid to challenge norms (even those within his faith).
He wastes no words making this point about gratitude.
In fairness, I can’t say I am surprised each time the sun rises. However, this quote got me thinking about the little things in life that I barely notice — but which make my life enjoyable and even possible.
Electricity is available to light up my home. Clean drinking water allows me to quench my thirst. Most remarkably, I have a body that just knows how to breathe in oxygen. I don’t even need to do anything for that one.
Each of these gifts allows my life to continue, day after day. And each of them I usually take for granted, if I’m being completely honest.
Applying Heschel’s mindset means allowing myself to imagine, if just for a moment, that I don’t have electricity or clean water running through my home. It makes me think about what would happen if the breath I am about to take was never actually promised.
The appreciation I experience might equal Heschel’s surprise at seeing the sunrise again. Or, building off his words, it’s this appreciation that allows me to truly live.