It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I disagree with John Green.
In this case, I disagree with him about whether bad things make us appreciate good things more.
In TFiOS, John writes that the existence of broccoli does not in any way affect the taste of chocolate. This is inarguably true. However, I do think that the existence of bad affects how we experience the good.
For example, when I went to the Netherlands on exchange, I was in awe of how beautiful the architecture was. It was all so old and pretty and impressive. But the Dutch students were accustomed to it. It was what they knew. It was so old. But when they came to Canada, and saw all of the buildings built in the 90s, they freaked out at how cool and new everything was. There was nothing old here!
The things in which we were immersed were far less attractive to us than the new, foreign things.
Mundanities don’t strike us as beautiful. Take escalators, for instance. Just a common mall fixture? Think again! They’re stairs that can move. Stairs. That. Move. That is SO COOL. But we don’t notice that, because they’re everywhere. If they weren’t everywhere, though, we’d freak out every time we saw them! They’d bring us so much more joy!
Now, I’m not saying that cancer is justified because it makes us appreciate our health. That’s bullshit. Sometimes the pain outweighs the joy it allows us to feel. But would we be actively grateful of our health if health wasn’t something we had to worry about? I don’t think so. (But again, I’m not using this to justify cancer or any other diseases, because I’m not a terrible person.)
If every day was warm and sunny, would we really appreciate it? I’m not sure.