Close Connections: Taking for Granted

By Nancy Norman

When was the last time you looked at Pikes Peak—really looked at it? The granite mountain English teacher Katherine Bates immortalized in “America the Beautiful” after her carriOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAage and burro ride to the top in 1893. Whose rocks provide foundations for grand old houses in Old Colorado City. On whose shoulders the ermine mantel rests when snow falls.

When was the last time you studied your friend or partner’s face—really studied it? Peering at the eye color and brow line, the shape of the face, the outline of the lips, the contour of the nose.

When was the last time you felt your heart beating—really felt it? Sensing the fist-sized muscle pumping life blood to every cell. That takes the stress when we’re scared or passionate. That is said to be the seat of loving and the source of giving.

It’s so important to bring to awareness what goes assumed most of the time. Things like getting up out of a chair. The people we think will always be there. Passion that makes us reel with ecstasy when we fall in love and we think will never end.

But we forget. We forget to know—really know—that nothing in this life is for granted. Every sunrise, every blink of our eyes, every full moon, every breath we take. None is granted forever.

The problem with taking things we love for granted is the epiphany of heartache that comes when those things are gone.

Then there’s taking the hardships of life for granted. The body’s aches and pains—“I’ll never feel better.” The assumptions that freeze progress such as, “I’ll never learn to play guitar” or “He’ll never change.” They slam the door on the joy of surprising changes.

So, are we to monitor our heart beating or our eyes blinking? Or constantly scrutinize what we believe about what we can and can’t do? Yes and no, I think.

Yes, we need to be mindful regularly. Stop and appreciate our heart’s rhythm (even if it’s uneven) and crimson flame sunsets—not just their existence but their ever-possible nonexistence. And be aware of our limiting beliefs that we take for granted to be true.

And no. If we monitored our heartbeat constantly, it would drive us crazy with worry that our interior metronome was running down. Is the next beat coming? Or endlessly focusing on our shortcomings we take for granted which blocks possibilities.

Yes, it’s vital to pay attention to what we don’t pay attention to. To look at our friend or partner’s face to see their deeper humanity. To believe in our dreams and not take for granted they’ll never come true. To help our country hold the “patriot dream that sees beyond the years….”

And no. Sometimes we need freedom from paying attention. We need quiet with no thoughts. We must forget what we have and have not and just breathe.

But then…come back to what we take for granted so we can appreciate or change how we live now.

Nancy Norman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, musician with The Storys and former “Intimacy” columnist for The Wichita Eagle. Email her at



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