Appreciating Air

We’ve had some incredible weather over the last few months.  I actually stopped checking the forecast a while back because sunny blue skies and mid eighties were pretty much assumed.  I almost forgot what a cloud even looks like.  It’s rare for us to have such predicable and beautiful weather, but it didn’t take long for me to settle into the habit of biking, hiking, or just hanging out in my hammock.  Outside was the new inside.

Sadly, this all changed about a week ago when Montana started having wildfires.  Smokey haze settled into Washington, and Spokane quickly turned into Beijing.  The burnt orange hue of the moon and sun were accompanied by a burnt orange sensation in my lungs.  The air was simply un-breathable, and it completely changed my plans and how I went about my day.  No more hiking, no more biking, no more hammocking, and I couldn’t even open the windows in my apartment.

Like many things in life, air is something you rarely appreciate or even notice until it affects you in a negative way.  One weird thing about the human brain is that it’s naturally wired with a “negativity bias”.  An illustration of the negativity bias is that a cockroach in a bowl of cherries makes the entire bowl undesirable, but a cherry doesn’t do anything for a bowl of cockroaches.  Because of our strong natural reaction to negative stimuli, they say it takes 5-10 positive events to counterbalance a negative one.  While this may seem a little discouraging, I think it’s an important reminder to practice gratitude.

As it turns out, we don’t have to wait until the air becomes polluted to appreciate it when it’s fresh.  We don’t have to wait until we’re sick to appreciate our health.  We don’t have to wait until we’re lonely to appreciate our friendships.  And we don’t have to wait until death to appreciate our lives.

Life and Matt


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