Pragmatic Appreciation Day

So, I was at a dinner party the other month when I had an unexpected lesson on learning to appreciate people and things for what they are.

Me: So, have you seen that film? I’m sorry that I missed it at the Los Angeles Film Festival. I’m really looking forward to seeing it on dvd.

B: That film? Ugh. Horrible.

Me: Really? Do tell.

B: The director took all the predictable short-cuts. There was nothing it in that I remember loving as a child. It was cheap and practically pornographic.

Me: Uhm … well, I still want to see it.

B: You’re wasting your time. Why do you want to see such trash?

Me: Well, when I’m in the mood for quality cinema, I’ll watch something like “Much Ado About Nothing” or “Man For All Seasons.” But when I’m in the mood for cheap thrills, I give myself leave to watch movies like “Transformers.”

And so on.

Just a little, inconsequential exchange with a film buff I was trying to persuade to show the movie on his wide screen projector. But it made me reflect later that night about appreciating things and people. For what they are. In the present. Without the burden of prior expectations or future developments. This may seem like a silly lesson, but I tend to live my life in the past and future … doing things because I anticipate talking about them later, and not enjoying them enough in the now. Things that immediately come to mind when I think about enjoying in the moment are dating and raising children. Granted, these are topics that are rarely very far from my mind. However, they are oft trying times that could be improved by a little pragmatic appreciation.


Dora is a pediatric critical care nurse. Therapy to alleviate the stress in her professional life include traveling around the world, reading, partner dancing and hosting dinner parties.

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  1. Jessawhy says:

    Great post, Dora. I think about living in the now when I spend my children’s memorable moments from behind a camera. I look forward to seeing how cute the pictures turn out more than actually enjoying the moment.
    As for movies, my policy is always to lower my expectations. The worst is when someone hypes up a movie before I see it. It’s almost always a let down. On the other hand, if I see a movie I’ve heard almost nothing about, I’m generally pleased (Juno, for example)

  2. Zenaida says:

    Dora, I would love to hear any ideas you might have about making dating more about pragmatism. I am terrible! I always evaluate what has and hasn’t worked for me in the past, I almost subconsciously evaluate the guy for potential future husband qualities, and I analyze every detail of a date after the fact. HELP! I’m a stereotype. : (

  3. Zenaida says:

    I also exaggerate. : )

  4. Caroline says:

    I struggle with truly appreciating the present too. Rationally I know that I should be loving nearly every moment of my life, but it’s hard for me to not take more pleasure in contemplating future trips, future careers, future school.

    Thanks for this post.

  5. Dora says:

    Jessawhy, that is exactly what I’m talking about. My nephews love to hamit up for my camera. But even more than performing for me behind the camera, they love it when I turn the screen around, and we can interact with each other and see it on the screen.

    I also hate it when people hype up movies to me. Except Once, which lived up to the praise. I want to see Juno, but will probably wait a while and netflix it.

    Zenaida, as you probably know, dating in LDS culture is always about the future. Will s/he be a good spouse/parent/provider/eternal sidekick? Anyone who says they don’t do post-date analysis is probably delusional.

    A guy friend, M, who was dating a very good friend of mine, once told me that it was akin to that line in “When Harry Met Sally.” You know, the one where Harry says something to the effect that men want to sleep with every woman they meet, even if they’re not pretty. M said that for LDS guys, they always contemplate what marriage, with each woman they meet, would be like.

    It made me laugh, then made me sad. When we look at others just for marriage-ability, we seriously limit our ability to appreciate, learn from, and love one another.

    And yet, I do it all the time. What has helped for me has been to consciously tell myself, sometimes even out loud, to approach each point of connection with a larger portion of philia. It sounds silly, but it seems to help me keep a level head.

    Caroline, I know that you have dreams about how things could be. It’s one of the reasons we have so much to talk about!

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