Thursday, July 3, 2008

Taking Things for Granted - A Guest Post

I'm terrified of posting this! It's my first time guest blogging anywhere (a big thank you to Joy for giving the opportunity!). I want to come across as being witty, interesting, pleasant and purposeful. I probably won't succeed....

So here is what I wrote. It gives a small peek into my life and thoughts. Comments, either here, or on my own blog, are extremely welcome. Even if you were bored to tears, I would still like to know!!

It's so easy to take things for granted. I spent my elementary school years in Ethiopia. The things I took for granted were the sunshine, the many trips overseas, the friends of all nationalities, the lack of good food, the holes in the roads, the smell of injera, dust and eucalyptus and the poverty everywhere. I wasn't shocked by the fact that kids walked around with hardly any clothes on. To me, that was normal!

When I came to the States when I was 13 I was utterly shocked at the overabundance of .... well.... practically everything. I remember taking home the lunches that my classmates didn't eat. I just couldn't bear to see good food being thrown away. But it didn't take me all that long to get used to that as well.

And now, living in Holland. I take the health care system for granted. My son is a hemofiliac and this is THE country to be living in for him! We have everything we need, and more. And I toss out leftovers without much of a second thought even though I know what living on the other end of the spectrum is like.

We humans seem to be programmed to perceive our immediate surroundings as being "normal". It's not often enough that we get a jolt, the realization that "hey, this is actually pretty neat!". The awareness that life is a gift and that we live in luxury. It's easy to get bogged down in the details in our own small spectrum of life and take all that we have for granted. Taking things for granted can also lead to "shuttered" thinking. Rigid rules and regulations, often of our own making, then define our lives.

Because I have grown up in different cultures I tend to look further than the "way things are supposed to be". I will often question the "rightness" of a statement, a rule or a regulation because I can easily imagine a situation where that same rule may be utter nonsense. I have a lot of shades of grey in my life. Sometimes that makes things difficult, I miss the cultural borders that define life and make living within them a safe happening. On the other hand I am happy with the fact that I am broadminded and hopefully also easily approachable.

I think it is this that I want to pass on to my children. A sense of the world being bigger than their direct surroundings, a feel for differences in culture, an open mind for new things, and respect to take those things seriously. And above all, I hope they don't take the "luxury" of our lives for granted.

My guest post today is by Marit from My Life in Holland. I am new to Marit's blog but boy has she lived an interesting life. She has lived in Ethiopia, Kenya, the US and currently resides in Holland with her husband and two kids. As you can tell from this post it has given her a very unique perspective on our world. Thank you so much Marit for answering my cry for guest-posts during my hiatus. You are my first ever guest blogger.


painted maypole said...

it's so hard to remember our relative wealth, particularly when here in the US my family lives on the poorer end of things. Not poor, mind you, for I have certainly seen that here. Thanks for this perspective, and a lovely first guest post!

*pab said...

a lovely, lovely reminder that life truly is good. thank you for the happy lift this morning! :)

Beck said...

Terrific guest post! It really made me think about how much I take for granted.

spaz said...

I was just discussing this very topic with a new friend I met last night. We were discussing how to get our kids to believe that we are wealthy compared to most of the world. Do they really just believe you or do they need to experience it for themselves? Great topic. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Marit said...

Hi Spaz,
Nothing makes as much of an impression as actually seeing poverty. Otherwise it's often just a lot of words. But then, you don't have to travel to africa to see the sad side of life. I'm thinking there's enough of that in every city in the States (or here in Holland for that matter)

the dragonfly said...

I haven't had quite those extremes, but living in Germany is sure different from living in the States! I sometimes wish we could be living here while my son is older, so he could appreciate the differences, but oh well. I'm sure I'll remind him many times about "life in Germany..."