Sunday, February 3, 2013

Developing Appreciation

An elderly woman harvesting rice for $5 a day.  A mother hand washing her clothes in running water along a village road.  A fire pit centered in a small room serving as a stove.  Families piled onto scooters like a mini van.

I have crossed paths with all of these in my travels - in "developing" countries.

Upon returning from these trips, I have experienced a paradigm shift.

I've glimpsed outside our comfortable boundaries to witness how many around the world live.  No Googling to answer inane trivia, no coffee shops to caffeinate the masses, no granite counter tops, no Volvos or Mercedes. 

I once reserved my shock, & a possible tear, as a new acquaintance showed me her home on one of my travels.  The conditions were below what I could have envisioned as minimal & sanitary.

However, my new friend smiled & genuinely appeared happy despite her environment.  The woman working in the field waved to me as if we had known each other for years.  The woman washing clothes on the side of the road smiled warmly as I connected with her for a brief moment.  The woman cooking on the fire pit offered me food as we exchanged a few friendly words.

I realized most of my stuff is merely an upgrade - optional.  If I was pared down to the minimum, I could still find a natural joy in life.  When faced with what I perceive as challenges, I envision these people surviving happily on much less - valuing their family & community above materials & wealth.   

They have unknowingly taught me many lessons - a reality check of sorts.  

I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone, & explore how others live.  I hope it opens your heart & mind as it has mine. 

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