Spiritual Reflections

A Desire Called “Appreciation”

Thank you. Whoever you are.

It sometimes feels so insincere – and oftentimes, we do say it so. Like a rehearsed line or a reflex speech, we blurt out words without really meaning it – only out of social convention and expectation. That’s how social etiquette goes. And it should be so. But are thankfulness and gratitude mere words?

They say that it’s the thought that counts. And for some, it’s real. Yet, are we true to our own thoughts? Have we actually given thought to all the kind deeds and words we receive? Do we merely think about it? Surely, not all deeds and intentions are met or should be rewarded with accolades and recognition – yet, surely… what does it cost to show appreciation?

What does it even mean to appreciate someone or something? 

I realize that it is far easier and simpler to be thankful or grateful. One can simply receive an ordinary gift and be thankful to the person who gave it. We can also be grateful for the thought and effort of the act. Yet to simply appreciate what it entailed for such a gift to be available means so much more than just acknowledging an object or a deed. When we see beyond thoughts and actions, when we perceive the full estimate of what it cost the person to obtain and deliver such a present or deed – beyond its monetary worth, we learn to appreciate.

But sadly, most of us only learn to truly appreciate what is only lost. And sadder still is that some even never learn at all.

“Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated.” – Robert S. McNamaraformer U.S. Secretary of Defense

Some people tend to be discouraged when their acts and gifts of kindness go unappreciated. Yet some hearts, even when under-appreciated or unappreciated, have a stronger tendency to endure, to persist, to persevere. Call it foolhardy, stubborn, idiotic, martir. Some hearts just don’t know when to give up, to give in. Is it mere courage? Is it mere faith? Is it mere hope? Is it mere love?

(Ah, how boys and men can be so stupid when it comes to love.)

Ah, love. Nothing is more tragic to a man than unrequited love. Yet the real tragedy is when we equate appreciation to reciprocity or indebtedness. When we start choosing what kind of appreciative gestures we prefer, when we start dictating how people should manifest their appreciation towards us – we do injustice not only to the sincerity of our deeds and thoughts; we depreciate our own worth.

Unless, of course, such depreciative act enables people to reach out to us – enabling them to communicate with us. For how can appreciation be possible without a mode of communication? How can we express our appreciation to someone from Europe who helped us here in the Philippines without the internet, phone or even mail? Or should we opt to travel across the world, without a common language, how will we be able to get our appreciative message across?

I guess it is for this very reason that God Himself, our Omnipotent Creator and Lord, chose to become a lowly human – not only so that we may be able to grasp the full extent of His love, but so that we may also be able to convey our most sincere expression of appreciation to His sacrifice. For how can we tell God, who is beyond our imagination, of His full worth – when our human words fail to describe all that He is and has done for us?

This also leads me to realize of my own petty desire for appreciation – that in my pursuit of it, I lost sight of those who truly do appreciate me.

Whoever you are: Thank you.


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