You can not appreciate what you do not understand

People often say, “I don’t know what people see in this,” thinking they are naive. But what if the answer is right there, in the first clause, “I don’t know”?

When you see a sports car or motorcycle and say it is entirely impractical, uncomfortable, expensive, dangerous, and loud. It’s a sign you don’t understand it. You don’t understand the challenges engineers faced when building such a powerful vehicle. You can’t appreciate the ingenuity of designers who achieved such a superb design. What kind of feelings does it provide to the driver. The driving experience is as hard to explain as describing sex to a virgin.

When you travel to Egipt, stand at the bottom of pyramids, and say, “I don’t know why people are so amazed by this bunch of stones,” then you don’t understand the context in which these stones were assembled. Building one pyramid involved: two million stone blocks, one hundred thousand workers, twenty years of work, five thousand years ago. It is marvelous where did they get these stones from; there is no stone pit in Cario. How did they transport them, organized the construction works, raised eighty tonnes stone blocks at a high of 140m, and managed such a massive number of people without phones and walkie-talkies. Finally, why did they used that workforce to build a tomb, not towns, ships, and conquer lands? Fascinating!

When you read a book that is widely agreed as a masterpiece, and you say it’s crap, then with high probability, you don’t understand it. If you are not familiar with the times when the author wrote the book, why this book came out, who was the addressee of this book. Then you probably can not appreciate it thoroughly. If you are too young or you have not developed the language skills enough, then the book might be just too hard for you, but it’s not crap.

If you are a beginner programmer and join some big project, you may think, “What a mess; why have they complicated everything so much?”. It is likely that it’s not a mess but enterprise-grade software, where you need to reason upon from a very abstract point of view. You need to see design patterns like you see the simple for-each loop. Only then you can understand it thoroughly and appreciate the beauty of the machinery as a whole. It’s not a mess; the pieces you look at are, in fact, the implementation of thoughtful design.

Next time you say, “I don’t know what people see in this,” think about it again, this time with a different attitude, look at it as something extraordinary, try to understand, try to appreciate. With this new attitude, you will be learning something new wherever you go, whomever you meet, whatever you do. It will save you a lot of frustration, misunderstanding, and conflicts with people of a different lifestyle.

By appreciating more, we can experience the world with higher intensity. Everything and everyone becomes interesting, fascinating, and stimulating. It will become your new healthy stimulant.

The best way to appreciate something is by learning about it. Learn about people to empathize with them. Learn cultures to be above them. Learn about places to appreciate them. Practice until you find a challenge of doing it well. Try with painting, playing music, writing, programming, fishing, dancing, working out, meditating, winter swimming, public speaking, etc. Practice until you understand “What people see in this”.

Finally, to appreciate life in general, remind yourself that you won’t last here forever. Ask yourself what would you like to do before you die, and do it, there is really nothing to wait for.

Things I identify for not being able to appreciate are cooking, poems, classical music, paintings, cultures, architecture, athletic sports, dancing.

What can you appreciate? What can’t you appreciate?