I am one of the luckiest kids I know. Since before I can remember, I have been hopping on planes and exploring the world. I am only thirteen and have already visited over twenty-seven countries. Sure I enjoyed and learned from all of these experiences, but one thing was missing; I didn’t appreciate them enough. Most people, if given the chance to zip line in Costa Rica or ride donkeys in Greece, would appreciate it. Luckily in the last months, two things have helped open my eyes to the wonderful and amazing life I have today. I believe in appreciating what you have while you have it.
In 2003 several fires ravaged the county of San Diego. All over the news, stories of families who had lost their homes frightened the citizens. I felt so sorry for all of those families, never considering that I could some day be one of them. That day came on Monday, October 22, 2007 without warning. Our family had evacuated along with a half million people as the Witch Creek Fire began. Ashes were falling everywhere creating a thick dark cloud that covered the sun. More than 1700 homes burnt to the ground. Although fire fighters fought long and hard to save our house, the force of the winds blowing embers in our direction was unstoppable. Later that night, we received a phone call with the bad news: our house had burnt to the ground. After a week of disbelief, I started to realize how much I had lost. Before the Witch Fire, I had taken so many things in my life for granted. Now I have returned to a healthy family, close friends, and a supportive community who are helping me put my life back together.
Long before these days of destruction, our family planned a trip to northern India. Although we were still in crisis mode, we started on our long journey to this foreign place. On top of being overly stressed and discouraged, India gave me a whole new perspective. Poverty, pollution, and over population were all around us. Even though I had traveled to many poor countries, none compared to what I saw. Beggars missing limbs patiently pleaded with by passers, as they entered holy temples. Dogs rummaged through mounds of filthy trash. Hordes of people clung to the tops of buses, whizzed by on mopeds, or lazily rode on the backs of oxen carts. These astonishing sights only made me appreciate everything I had even more.
Now that I have returned home to my normal routine, I reflect back to my two life changing experiences. Recently, I read a quote by Colet that says, “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” Luckily, through losing my house and traveling to India, I have realized that being appreciative is one of the keys to a happy and fulfilling life.
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