I have been feeling rather reflective lately, and as such I’ve come to realize that as people, as humans, we need to be open to learning from others, to listening to others’ experiences. Everyone has something to share, whether they think they do or not.
I went out on Friday to get a long needed pedicure with Ami and MJ. The man who was working on my feet was chatting to Ami and I as we sat next to each other with our feet soaking, the massage chairs working out the knots in our shoulders.
We found out that the man working at the spa was from Vietnam and had actually lived for a while in the Philippines (which is where Ami was born). She asked him how he had ended up in the Philippines and his answer was “we were rescued by fisherman.” Wait, what?
Yes, he had been rescued by fisherman. He had escaped Vietnam in 1988 at the age of 10. He lived in the Philippines for about 16 months before moving to Atlanta where he had an uncle that was willing to sponsor them. He didn’t share all of the details of this story, but the power of what had happened was apparent in just the little bit we heard. He escaped…..in a boat….and was rescued by a random stranger fishing on the sea. Wow.
His story reminded me of my last work trip to San Antonio in January 2013. My producer and our contact from the insurance company we worked with were sitting in the backseat of the cab while I sat int he front seat with the driver. He was young and very friendly, so we chatted a bit on the way from the AT&T Center back to our hotel. He was from Iraq and had escaped during the years of most recent conflict/war and moved to the States. As it’s been 2 years since he told me the story, and I was too stupid to make notes about it when I got back to the hotel, I can’t really remember the details. I just remember that based on our conversation I was completely in awe.
Both of these men and their stories have really made me consider just how lucky we have it here. Some of us may grow up with money and some of us may grow up in poverty, struggling to make ends meet. But in the end, we still have it so much easier than these two men, let alone millions of others. I can’t imagine being in a country that is in a state of war, in a state of unrest. And I can’t comprehend fleeing my own country in a rickety boat where the chance of death is better than not making the attempt to escape.
We take for granted the freedom and opportunities we have. We take for granted the fact that even with the amount of poverty we have in the states, even with our discontent with our government, we are all still richer than most people who live in third world countries.
These conversations have made me reconsider my own gripes that seem so inconsequential. I woke up too late to do my hair. My car is in the shop. I’m tired from working 60 hours a week. I don’t want to pay my bills. The fact is, I have water and electricity and a roof over my head; I have a car (in fact I have 3); I have a job (actually 2) that makes me a decent amount of money and allows me to go out to eat and travel. I have it so easy in comparison to so much of the rest of this world’s population.
It’s all about perspective