But if you want a sure-fire way to appreciate anything, I say try it. I, for instance, appreciate runners. Is that weird? Maybe. I admire them, for sure. Because when I "try" running, I'm reminded that I am no runner and find new admiration for those who put feet to pavement for miles upon miles.
So last month when I got the chance to be an extra in the Dallas Opera's production of Don Giovanni, I gained a new appreciation for the entire process of putting a theater production together from start to finish. Because I only got to be a part of rehearsals for the first two days, I witnessed the very early stages of rehearsals and the constant stop and go that needs to take place in order for it to look seamless on opening night. It's not like I never appreciated actors and singers before, but this gave me a more well-rounded look at everyone involved in a production (actors, the chorus, supernumeraries, directors, stage managers, the maestro, dancers... the list goes on!)
My suggestion next time you don't fully understand something or "appreciate" it is to try being a part of it somehow. Be an extra in a play or movie. Take an art class. Sit in a rehearsal of a musician. I promise you'll get a unique experience that will teach you to appreciate something in a completely new way.
(To read about my experience, read my post on D Magazine's arts blog, FrontRow. And the Dallas Opera's blog posted a link to my story under the "punny" header "Dallas Opera Gave Her the Slip.")