Sunday morning gratitude
Sunday, April 14, 2019
For anybody who has ever left North America, freedom is a very palpable thing when you return home. The United States and Canada are the only two places on earth that I would ever feel safe to do things that are unheard of elsewhere in the world.
It is not the big things, but the little things like being able to raise a flag of your choosing, wearing clothing that we wish to wear, expressions of protest or love for something. Tourists usually never will see the behind-the-scenes things of everyday life of a native of a country, but when I traveled,even as a teenager, I rode local buses to bars with mine workers, walked on mountains with laborers, sat and talked to local kids, shopkeepers and their families,etc.
It is a very cool thing to be able to share daily life with others in their environment, no matter where you are. In other countries, there is no child care, free transportation, or day care facilities to drop kids or elderly relatives off when you go to your job. Markets, parks, any business will have the entire extended family sitting around or helping sell whatever they have to offer. There is no place on earth that some little portion of the English language is not spoken, of only a few words.
Dusty trails on mountains, shelters(home) built on the side of a South American mountain with tarp, leftover cardboard and maybe if you are lucky, some corrugated metal, are home to at least ten people in a fifteen square foot area. Donkeys parked outside, with a small cooking fire attended by women to prepare food... No hospitals for hundreds of miles, no malls, car dealerships, restaurants, paved roads, traffic lights, streetlights, fire or police stations anywhere to be seen..
The very first thing I learned as a teenager was humility, seeing what others would never have and what I already had,even from a blue collar household.
I thought then, that Mexico was a poor country until I went to South America. It was a whole new level of poor.
I always appreciated anything I got or had done for me, but I was brought to tears on a trip as a teenager, struggling with enjoying something that was my trip of a lifetime, and feeling guilty for what I had and others did not, The abject poverty and minute-by-minute misery that I could not undo, was the most powerful message to take with me. I asked every single other kid on that trip if they felt that way or noticed it, and nobody else even thought about it.
That was yet another growth for me, trying to process myself and stand up to the warp-speed maturity that happened just by riding on a bus to a foreign country.
While the other kids were laughing and listening to music on the way home, I was praying for all of the people that I saw or interacted with, knowing that I was going back home to a safe, secure house and food, clothing, transportation, friends and no fear of where the next meal was to come from, that i did not have to sit with my one-year-old baby on the sidewalk , her hand held out with a stick of gum for someone to buy, wearing only a diaper.
So today, I sit in a house, drive a car, eat food that I can pay for, have insurances and vast freedoms, all things I never take for granted. Sometimes maturity comes in surprising packages.