Swimming, Breathing and What We Take for Granted

  • Published
  • By Col. Ken Stefanek
  • 39th Air Base Wing vice commander
Last weekend while playing with my kids at the pool, they asked if I could swim from one side to the other entirely under water. Like any dad, I really wanted to be a hero in my kids' eyes, so I took a big breath and started off across the pool. At about the halfway point I started feeling uncomfortable and by three-quarters of the way I would have given half of my kingdom for a breath of air. Reaching the other side, I popped up and literally gasped for air, but was happy because my kids thought I was the greatest -- at least for that moment.

Reflecting on the event later, it occurred to me that 99.99 percent of the time, taking a breath of air isn't something we need to think about; in fact it is even something we do in our sleep. While I was struggling under the water however, breathing was not something I took for granted. It also occurred to me that we are surrounded by things we take for granted. Examples include the computers we use everyday, clean water in our homes, and the lights that come on at a flip of the switch. We've even come so far that we take high tech gizmos like video teleconferences and wireless networks totally for granted.

While it is great that we have the gadgets and systems that make us more productive and our lives easier, every now and then we should take stock of all those things we take for granted. We need to remember that dedicated Airmen work long hours fixing and maintaining computer networks, water lines and electrical transformers. If you think about it, the ability to see and talk to people all over the world is really quite amazing. By realizing the effort required to produce some of the things we take for granted, we'll come to appreciate these things more and even more importantly appreciate the many men and women who do the work to make them all happen. We'll remember their role in helping us ensure Freedom's future.