It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our daily drama and at our best, to realize that “suffering” is a natural part of growth.
Then comes along Memorial Day. I don’t even know the meaning of the word “suffer”. Here is a day devoted to those men and women who literally lost their lives to defend for our freedoms. Who can possibly compare with that type of loss?
To be honest, I spent the day yesterday like many Americans – enjoying the gorgeous weather (at least in my part of the country), going to a picnic and spending time with my kids. Not once did the subject of service, gratitude or sacrifice come up. I thought about it and reminding my kids for the umpteenth time but I also knew that another one of my sermons would just fall on already deaf ears. Poor excuse, I understand.
Memorial Day is a strong reminder of the perspective that exists all around us but we sometimes neglect to truly see. Maybe it’s me, but how many times have you been frustrated by something (let’s say a nagging kid for hypothetical purposes), when you see a handicapped person who is just minding his own business and getting on with the day or someone else with a physical or mental challenge? I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, it sends any ounce of self pity that I have surging through my body. All of a sudden, I’m like “who wants ice cream?”
Why is that? It’s because we forget how precious life really is at any given moment. Life can change in the blink of an eye and we all know that we live on the precipice of what was and what may be at any given moment. We can’t live our lives like that – it would be too daunting and too difficult. However, we can filter our experiences through the eyes of perspective – a respect and appreciation for all we have and all we have yet to achieve when there are so many with so much less.
I remember traveling around Mumbai with someone who was living there. It was hard for me to be taken around by a chauffeur in a nice town car while inches away from our car were little children living in squalor right outside our windows. This person said to me, “well, at least we don’t hide our poor” insinuating that in America, we relegate our poor to other neighborhoods where those wealthier than them don’t have to be reminded of the poverty that exists. I am not sure I agree with this black and white assessment but the point is taken. It’s about perspective.
So, here’s the thing. I’m probably not going to stop complaining. It’s one of my strengths – not to mention a good source of comedy. But I do promise to maintain a healthy daily doses of gratitude and perspective and see if there is a way of embedding that into my offspring without sounding like Mike Brady from the Brady Bunch. I’ve been told he is annoying in a preachy sort of way. Who knew? I sort of thought he was just a closet stoner.
Until next time, Marc