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Gentle Virtues


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03/01/2009 - In 1855 aluminum was more valuable than silver. Selling at $115 per pound, only French emperor Napolean III and other wealthy people could afford aluminum spoons.

Aluminum was highly valued because it was rare. Neither chemists nor metallurgists had yet discovered an affordable way to make it in bulk. When two major breakthroughs were made in the late 1880s aluminum's appreciation sharply declined.

Just the other day, my husband bought lengths of angled aluminum for a project. He paid only $1.87 per pound. Aluminum has certainly become a common metal.

Things either appreciate or depreciate. While supply and demand is a factor, the commonness or rarity of what is being estimated also influences the appreciation.

"Appreciation". This word comes from the Latin prefix "ad" meaning "to" and the baseword "pretium" meaning "value". "Appreciation", along with its verb form "appreciate" literally means "to value".

What do you value? What do you appreciate?

My precious dad just had major heart surgery. During his lengthy operation and the time he was in ICU, I missed him and his one-of-a-kind voice. The difficult but necessary time made me appreciate him and his unique qualities in a deeper way. His rarity became remarkable to me.

Honestly, I don't think we deliberately take things or people for granted. I just think that commonplaceness subtly settles into our lives and we lose the sensitivity to see and experience the extraordinary qualities in our ordinary lives.

While a major operation or other kind of major difficulty can sensitize us once again, I think it is possible to become sensitive to our everyday blessings without such a shake-up. Consciously,we can rarefy.

To rarefy is "to make rare". It is to find and appreciate uncommon qualities in common things. It too is to find and appreciate distinctive features in people.

By rarefying our days, we can highly appreciate them, along with the people and the things that make each day functional, promising and downright special.

In order to live extraordinary lives, we must take extraordinary measures. Part of that includes appreciating what has become common.

By being appreciative, we bring out the value or worth of who or what we are appreciating. And by living with a heart of appreciation, we can feel as wealthy as Napolean III.

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