In a world where ostentation is second nature and an accumulation of material objects dictates social hierarchy I think that it’s extremely easy to be unappreciative; having an insatiable void that we think needs to be filled with inconsequential things. We mistake our wants for needs and see minor inconveniences as grave misfortunes. I remember thinking that my friends were more content than I was because they travelled more, had their own rooms, and could afford expensive and exotic perfumes. For my sixteenth birthday my parents got me an Escada perfume. I cherished it, mainly because it was the only perfume that I had and I would only use two spritzes of it; on my neck and wrist. I never wanted to use too much because I wanted it to last forever, foolishly believing that the glass bottle contained happiness in the form of alcohol and essential oils.
When I was in high school I thought my friends were lucky because they had arrays of perfume bottles adorning their dressers, closets filled with clothes and an innumerable amount of shoes that cost more than my belongings combined. Their lives seemed exciting and comfortable. Sometimes I wondered whether any of them ever had to bathe in a bucket or take packets of ketchup and sugar from restaurants just so that they didn’t have to buy any at a store.
It was only in the past few years that I realized none of that mattered. I’ve always had a roof over my head and food to eat, even if it was canned tuna or peanut butter because, as my mom would say, food is food. She would also say, “If you don’t want to eat it then you’re not really hungry.” That was the usual reply I’d get if I said I was starving but didn’t want to eat peanut butter. I was young and didn’t think that there were those who would have to resort to eating leaves or sand just to survive.
Sure in the back of my mind I knew that there were those less fortunate, but I didn’t always think of them which made it easy to feel dejected when the cupboards were bare or I wasn’t allowed to take a shower two days in a row because of water shortages. Like I said, it’s easy to be unappreciative, especially concerning the little things.
But I remember being in my uncle’s car one night and stopping at a petrol station. There was an arctic chill outside, but I was in the comfort of the car with a heated seat, and all I could think was that I couldn’t wait to get home and have something hot to drink. As we drove away from the petrol station there was a man sitting huddled against a wall while trying to keep warm with a fire that he had made in a metallic dumpster. I felt guilty and ashamed, like I had no right to even think of complaining about the cold when he didn’t even have a blanket to stay warm or shelter from the cold showers that fell from the sky later that night.
Other similar memories play in my mind; at a well-known spot in Cape Town called Sea Point I’ve seen people rummage through discarded KFC bags for food and skeletal children begging for money on the street. I’ve watched documentaries on people who lost their homes and all their belongings, having to rely on the generosity of others to get by. And with the recent massacre in Gaza, I’ve seen images that break my heart and leave me wondering how they’ll piece their lives back together. I always thought it was a sad reality; that seeing the suffering of others made us more sympathetic and grateful rather than just being sympathetic and grateful without such a tragic encouragement.
So, when I wake up I’m grateful for seeing another day, for having a good night’s rest and waking up in a comfortable bed next to the love and light of my life who, thankfully, doesn’t snore. I’m thankful that I can take a shower under hot water and I’m thankful that we’ve never run out of toothpaste. I’m thankful that I have all my senses; that I can hear the sing-song of birds in the morning and see the subtle color change of the leaves in the garden. I’m thankful that I can walk and that I have all my limbs. I’m thankful for the vivid imagination and creative mind I was blessed with. I’m thankful for the adversities I’ve faced, the obstacles I’ve had to overcome and the losses I’ve experienced along this tumultuous journey called life.
If we count our blessings, rather than linger on everything we think is wrong with our lives, we’d see that they outweigh the difficulties we face. There are always those who we think lead more enriched lives, but there are also those who wish they could walk in our shoes, even just for a day. We don’t have to look far to see people who are homeless or children who’ve been orphaned, struggling to fend for themselves. Not only do we have so much to be thankful for, we have a duty to help those around us because it’s the humane thing to do.
I’ll end this post with a quote from a movie I saw a long time ago. I barely remember the film but I wrote the quote in one of my many notebooks.
“It’s so much easier to be happy, my love. It’s so much easier to choose to love the things that you have, and you have so much, instead of always yearning for what you’re missing, or what it is you’re imagining you’re missing. It’s so much more peaceful.”
Have a lovely Friday y’all, let’s appreciate what we have.
& feel free to comment on what you’re thankful for. 🙂