Thursday, December 8, 2011

what matters most

Snowtober. Hurricane Irene. Wind, sleet, hail, relentless rain. A power outage occurs and we get back to the basics: warmth on a cold, wet day with a pile of blankets to crawl under; hot and cold running water...any running water for that matter; a refrigerator to keep our food from spoiling, a freezer to keep it even longer. It can be that simple, right? What matters most are often the "basics" we take for granted, these modern marvels that I barely notice or stop to appreciate until they're taken away. The dryer breaks. A power line goes down. Or I travel far from the western world. Many of you shared these very items in the theme pool for the past two weeks. You talked about your friends and families, your homes, and sometimes just making it though the day was enough for you. Yet, if you're like me, for all that we appreciate the beauty in our lives, we also spend as much time looking at just the opposite. We notice what don't have, instead of what we do. Our thoughts and judgement get clouded by advertisers, political squabbling or maybe the harsh reality of our bank accounts. We don't mean to get distracted. It just happens.

I once drove past a village in Nepal where the only running water was a spigot on the side of a busy road. Men and women, young and old, bathed themselves wrapped in sarongs, lathering the soap through fabric just to get clean. Instead of a tiled shower stall or smooth bathtub, they found muddy, gravel beneath their feet. In South Africa, thousands of people live in squatter camps and count themselves fortunate to have a roof over their heads. This is not to say that these people live lesser lives, just more difficult ones with less.

As we move into the busy holiday season where time seems to disappear just thinking about it, I'm hoping i can stop for a moment now and again to reflect on all that I have, and give many thanks for the miraculous blessings that come in and out of my life on a daily basis. It's this sentiment, from yzzilyzzid that moved me to write this post. After passing countless cotton fields on the side of the road, she reflected on the work of thousands that used to bring in this cash crop. "I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to pick those cotton balls by hand. They are so stiff and unyielding, and I'm sure that at the end of the day your hands would be cracked and bleeding." After making this observation, she reflects, "I am so grateful to work in an air conditioned office, and the greatest difficulty I have to face is completely insignificant in light of what I could face daily. How truly blessed I am." I couldn't agree more, and I'm hoping to hold on to these feelings of gratitude and maintain the ability to focus on joy, love and giving in the weeks ahead. And although at some point, I'll probably bemoan the fact that we still haven't replaced our dryer, I can gratefully say that I don't mind. Truly, I have all that I need around me, so I can enjoy the process of focusing on what really matters most. How about you? What matters most in your world?

Holly {Soupatraveler}

329:365 king cotton
329:365 king cotton by yzzilyzzid


Anna said...

Holly, thanks for the wonderful reminder - yes, we are so blessed for the abundant lifestyle that we enjoy!!!

Lola said...

Gratitude is something I strive to remember and practice every day, yet I often fail--I lose sight of why I am grateful. Thank you, this is exactly what I needed to hear today.

Unknown said...

Wonderful thoughts, Holly. This is really what it comes down to.

Stephanie (Keenemomma) said...

My mother grew up picking cotton in the fields of Alabama. Not only was it hard on the hands with the hard, prickly plants to contend with, but they often picked for hours under a blazing sun. Even in the cooler months it could be sweltering under those conditions. She does not see the romance of a bursting unpicked cotton field like I do. It's amazing to me how different the life she gave me is from the one she lived. These are the kinds of thoughts that shape me and make me never want to stop expressing my gratitude, despite the daily things we moan about.

Thank you for encouraging us to be grateful.

I was touched that yzzilyzzid feels something like what I feel when I see the cotton fields.
I posted an image about this during November:

Kirstin said...

This is such an amazing post, Holly. We have so much to be thankful for, you are right. x

urban muser said...

holly, a beautiful post. your words remind us all to appreciate what we have.

christina said...

a warm and oh so thoughtful post.

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