Basics of Life: A Bit of Real Appreciation
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God's Country my folks' backyard, looking back at the house -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/2000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
God's Country
my folks' backyard, looking back at the house

Since the tractor ride the other day, Anthony has gotten to steer the small riding lawn mower while he sits on the seat in front of me and I work the foot pedals. As you might imagine of a six year old, he can't get enough of it.

As we were riding the mower around the lake this afternoon, I was struck, as I often am, by the beauty of the view, so I stopped the tractor. Anthony protested “I want to drive more”, but I asked him to appreciate the view. Kids take every good thing that comes their way for granted, but I hope he's old enough now at six to start to appreciate how lucky he is.

Appreciating the View -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 36 mm — 1/400 sec, f/6.3, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Appreciating the View

I explained that where we live in Kyoto is beautiful and wonderful in so many respects, but that Grandma and Grandpa's place is beautiful and wonderful for so many completely different reasons — fields he can run around in, a tractor he can ride, a lake for throwing rocks and boat rides, fuzzy seed things floating by in the breeze that grant you a wish if you catch them, birds eating out of his hand and lots of wild life, lots of nature and farms and pretty countryside — that he should be thankful that he can have these experiences. Most of his classmates in Japan will probably never have them.

He also has a Mommy and Daddy that love him very much, and who support him having these experiences, and a Grandma and Grandpa who love him very much and support these experiences.... a wonderful life in Kyoto and a wonderful life in America.... I just hope, I told him, that he might appreciate just how lucky a kid he is.

Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/400 sec, f/11, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos

We sat there on the lawn mower, him half on my lap in front of me, enjoying the splendid view, watching the wind on the lake and the occasional fuzzy “Santa Clause” seed thing float by, listening to the birds and the rustling of the trees.

For long minutes he sat there motionless and in silence, and I let him be. After a long time — perhaps ten minutes of silence — he silently folded his hands over the steering wheel and bent over and buried his head on his hands. This whole time I had no idea what he was thinking, so I suddenly got worried that he was ill or crying or something, and asked him whether he was okay.

I'm saying Thank You to God.

(Later, we continued driving, grabbed the camera at the house, and returned to the same spot for these pictures by which we could remember the experience.)

All 6 comments so far, oldest first...

Thanks for these! I find it’s similar whenever I go home and and when I visit my grandparent’s farm in Michigan. Even now, while I don’t live in a city, it’s still a “population”.

Now that I’m older, I really appreciate my upbringing by the lake and the opportunity to enjoy a snow-covered frozen fields. My bet is Anthony will as well, especially with these photos to remind him. I wish I had photos like these of my childhood!

— comment by JasonP on August 6th, 2009 at 2:36pm JST (15 years ago) comment permalink

I completely understand why you’re too busy to reply to my comments or lots of email. That will wait – this kind of experience can’t be repeated. You’ll rightly forget my carping about uploads to Flickr but you’ll never forget this vacation!

Have a great time.

— comment by Ian Fuller on August 6th, 2009 at 7:26pm JST (15 years ago) comment permalink

Great post. I think one of the most important things we can do for our kids is to instill in them a sense of appreciation and gratitude. Heck, that goes for ourselves as well; we would do well to remember it more consistently.

(Interestingly, when I tell this to Maki she understands what I’m saying, but can’t help thinking that it’s also teaching something akin to superiority. This is a cultural distinction, for Japanese people are taught to minimize their own “luckiness” when others might not have been so lucky.)

— comment by Zak on August 6th, 2009 at 9:37pm JST (15 years ago) comment permalink

I don´t think there can be a more perfect expression of pure being, pure, un-wanting presence.
Thanks for this, and congratulations to you and Anthony and your wife. Enjoy the bliss.
Chris in Brazil.

— comment by Christoph Diewald on August 7th, 2009 at 9:38am JST (15 years ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey –

1st time to comment but always get on every day to read and view your blog. Thanks so much for sharing. I just had to comment that I was looking at your son’s pic and , being a dentist, the first thing that I noticed was the loose tooth in front. Then I saw the title! Didn’t have to see the title to know the subject matter! As an aspiring photographer (Nikon), I love seeing and hearing about your pics. Thanks again all the way from Fort Worth, TX. It’s a real treat every night I get on the Mac.

Chad Perry

— comment by Chad on August 7th, 2009 at 1:01pm JST (15 years ago) comment permalink

Thoroughly enjoying these posts. Don’t forget to include a visit to Anthony’s tree!

— comment by Diane on August 9th, 2009 at 2:26am JST (14 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink
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