I believe that we should count our blessings. The American culture is so wrapped up with the material world, our egos, and very few of us realize that we actually have it made. We should stop feeling bad for ourselves. We need to give thanks and gratitude whenever we can, and although challenging, no matter what our short-comings are, we must keep in mind that somewhere else, someone else, has it worse than we do.
I saw this very idea in action about a year ago, when I had traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana. I was volunteering my time and compassion to help those in need by working to fix up houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. I brought along a book, Ishmael, for the trip, and somehow it had gotten wet the night before our departure. Of course, I was upset, as I had just recently bought a brand new copy of it. The last several chapters were soaking wet, and the binding was beginning to fall apart. It was not pleasant at all to read or to hold open during the thirty-hour bus ride, and I had to air out the soggy pages when I wasn’t reading it. I remember it being such a pain and that it was a serious bummer. All I could think about was getting home to my hot glue gun so that I could fix the damage to the binding. It was driving me absolutely crazy. Alas, I was able to read about half the entire book on the way down there.
When I had arrived to New Orleans and in particular, saw the dilapidated ghost town of the Lower Ninth Ward, the extent of water damage there really put things into perspective for me. I realized that what had happened to my book was nowhere in comparison to what had happened to these people’s houses, communities, schools, parks, family members, memories, and lives. And not to mention, entire libraries; multiple books. I realized that I was acting like a spoiled, privileged, and snobby Northerner; “Oh, my poor book”. Sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, beloved pets, had all floated away, drowning in those waters. And I was there, complaining about my book? All that I can say, is that I was no longer upset that my book was ruined.
I finished the last half of the book on my way back home. What a learning experience between those pages. Quite fitting for a book like Ishmael. I was seriously put in my place. Besides, the less than optimal quality that my book has now, adds character. And remember, give thanks.
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