You Are Richer Than a King | A Perspective on LifeAdmin
This is the season for thankfulness. Yet many are struggling during these unusual and challenging times. Despite the difficulties, we are blessed and privileged, we are just unaware of how fortunate we truly are.
Did you know that you have a higher quality of living and finer things than the kings of my grandparent’s era and every generation before them throughout history and around the world? That is true even if you are poor living in the US. I mentioned this in a public speech and a friend of mine in her twenties immediately after the talk told me how tired she is of being poor. I realized she had absolutely no concept of what I was saying. Thus, a few specific illustrations might be warranted.
Are you appreciative of a fine crisp apple? Apples have been available all your life at every grocery store, so you may just assume their availability. My grandparents did not have refrigeration for much of their life. They had a cellar, which was basically a hole in the ground with dirt on 3 sides and a door on top. It was a cool place because it was underground. Fresh apples were only available during the few weeks at apple harvesting time. My grandparents put apples in a tube and put the tube in a long narrow hole in the floor of their cellar. That was the only way they could have apples during the winter. Needless to say, winter apples were a bit brown and shriveled.
Do you marvel at a ripe plump strawberry? Commercial flights were not available and prohibitively expensive for the 1st half of my grandparent’s lives. My grandfather worked at an ice company, where they delivered large blocks of ice to homes as that was the only method for keeping things cool. With modern refrigeration and air travel, fresh fruits and vegetables are flown in from all parts of the world and arrive unblemished and pristine. These were rare luxuries for the kings and ultrawealthy before 1930.
Even in my lifetime, the availability of food options has changed drastically. When I was a girl, there was only 1 type of lettuce in the grocery store – iceberg. Fish was Mrs. Paul’s frozen fish sticks, unless my Dad had gone on a fishing trip. Now there are 20 different kinds of lettuce and tons of other fresh greens including kale, radicchio, collards, mesclun, Belgian endive, frisee, etc. There are also a massive variety of diverse prepared foods that can be easily and quickly be warmed to create a meal. My grandparents plucked their own chickens, which took many hours. They did not have a dishwasher or clothing washer. Their days were full just doing cooking and cleaning. If they were fortunate, they had an hour in the evening to listen to the radio or sit on the porch.
Before GPS, I remember getting lost regularly when trying to find places using printed maps and struggling to see street signs in the dark. It was very challenging to find new places and required planning ahead and buying the right hard copy maps. Most of my life there were no cell phones, so you could not reach someone you were meeting out somewhere if you were late or lost. You had to wait until you and they returned to where you each had hard-lined fixed phones to discuss any disconnect from the original plan.
Without the internet, it was difficult to find information. Each home had an Encyclopedia Britannica that covered common topics. This series of printed books took up a few shelves on the bookcase but still only covered limited data.
My grandparents (and all the kings from their time and before) had no tv, no computer, no videos, no electronic games, no internet, no health insurance, almost no pharmaceuticals and for part of their lives no running water. Until 1930, the movies in movie theatres had no sound! And 30% of American homes had no electricity.
Imagine life with no electricity. What do you do when the sun goes down? Reading a book by candlelight or fire was among the few options. Most households had a limited number of books. Imagine walking 2 hours each day to get water that you carry back in jugs on your head, as many still do in Africa. There is no time left for entertainment. Life is about surviving. Electricity does more to eliminate poverty than any other one thing. But there are still communities in parts of the world where there is no drinkable water, no electricity, insufficient food, no running water, and no education.
My parents grew up during the depression. Many American children today find it hard to believe that the majority of Americans were starving during the depression. My grandparents took lard sandwiches (2 pieces of white bread with lard on it) to the schools because that was the only food most children got all day. We have come so far! And we have so many conveniences and so much time for entertainment. But it is easy to take it for granted when we have had it all our lives. We lose perspective.
Thinking and speaking gratefulness actually rewires our brain and makes it easier to be grateful the next time. There are always things in our lives that don’t match what we want. And we can focus on that. But the experience of life is much better if we choose to focus on the portion of the cup that is full. Join me today in meditating on the good in our lives and appreciating all that we have.