Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Counting Blessings

How many of you would say you have a great life? Sit back and think about it for a while, before you read about how wonderful mine is.

Somehow in my nineteen years and 4 months of life I have never broken a bone, gotten into an accident or lost someone very close to me. I do not have any life-threatening or debilitating illnesses, have never come down with mono, and by some twist of fate have managed to procrastinate right up to the deadlines for homework and still pull off a 3.6-3.8 average all the way through school. That's lucky, because I know others who can try hard and still not recieve the grades I do. Teachers keep telling me I have potential, and I think "Potential? That's what you tell someone who is motivated to get to the top. I'm not a potential achiever, I'm an accident of the universe."

(The universe does have a pretty interesting sense of humor. Today we had a thunderstorm pass us by on both sides, but all we got here was ten minutes of cloud cover followed by sunshine and some big raindrops. It was amusing more than anything else, because the sky overhead looked perfectly blue but there was the rain anyway, splattering into the dusty driveway as though it was going to continue all night. "Only in Western New York," I said to my family as we stood on the deck and watched the rain splash into the pool.)

Then there are days when I get stressed out because there seems to be no way I can pull off a good grade in a class, or run in a race, or do whatever it is I am supposed to do. Every time I start thinking I've messed something up, something happens to reassure me that life is going to help me out. There's really no explanation for the million times I have sat in my room trying to figure out what I am going to tell a teacher only to find that the assignment isn't graded or wasn't due that day or, on rare occasions, that school was canceled and I have an extra day to finish my work. There's no reason it should keep happening over and over again that whenever the shit gets near the fan, the wind changes and nothing hits at all. Close calls started to amuse me a while ago because it seems right now that I am invincible at least as far as the homework is concerned and it seems that if anyone wanted to hit me while I was driving they'd have managed to by now. Of course, luck changes and guardian angels do let bad things happen but I think mine is overzealous about protecting me.

Even when I'm doing potentially dangerous activities like climbing 40+ foot rocks without a rope or a spotter, driving slightly faster than I know is safe, or running barefoot around areas where there could be broken glass, I don't hurt myself. The worst I've done is scraped up my knees and elbows a few times, and stepped on some sharp rocks that left me wincing but still able to walk. It's absurd how little damage I do to myself and others sometimes, at least physically. I must have one hard-working angel, and I am very, very grateful to it. Not only am I blessed with safety, but I have been given so much else along with my good health. I have a loving family, and a loving boyfriend, and so much more.

I have lived a good life in so many ways - as of today I have never had to declare bankruptcy, experienced starvation, been without the support of friends and family, or been denied the right to an education. I have had chances to visit places outside of my hometown (although I have never been outside North America), had a computer for most of my life, had TV for almost as long as the computer, have never been to a place without running water and plumbing, and have always been provided with a roof over my head and a warm place to sleep. There are tens of thousands of people in the world who would say I live a rich life, because I have the basics provided for me and often take them for granted. There are millions of others who would compare their lives to mine and wonder how I have lived in such "poverty." The people who have never been without satellite TV, two or more cars in the driveway and six-figure incomes would shake their heads at the 'simple' life I could describe to them.

I have known so many people who had more than I did in a material way but still could not count all their blessings, and in that way they were poorer than I have ever been. There is more to living than gathering every material thing that comes your way into one huge pile. The 46" HDTV in the living room will not help you build a stairway (or tower) to heaven. It will only get you so far before everything collapses underneath you. That's why I think it's good to draw up a list of blessings every so often that has nothing to do with the stuff sitting in your house or the money in the bank. It helps us remember what's really important in life and keeps us from taking our most important blessings - health, family, friends, love, wisdom, our talents and abilities - for granted.

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