It is such an incredibly beautiful day today so I’m sitting here on the front verandah overlooking the lake as I type.
The water is glistening, the palm leaves gently swaying in the summer breeze, the birds singing….
My God, I am so lucky to live where I am living, and to have the life that I have.
It’s not often we think about gratitude, for all the things we have. Most of us, me included, are sometimes more preoccupied with that we DON’T have and what we want to have, rather than what is right here, right now.
I am sooo excited because in about ten days time we are going to the Philippines.
I’m excited because I want to show our kids a different world.
We’re going to Manila. Not one of the beautiful tropical islands there. The city of Manila.
Ok, so we will go out of the city, do some tours, go down a river on a canoe under a waterfall (yikes!)….visit Tagaytay to horse ride up a volcano. Maybe one other tour while we’re there.
We’ll visit all the bustling markets too….colourful and hectic – total sensory overload!
I’ll be looking for dress fabrics as I’m beginning to make my own clothes, plus anything craft like that I can bring back to work with this year.
I’m seeing my dentist while we’re there. Yes, I live in Australia but my dentist is in Manila.
I can’t begin to tell you the horror story dentist experiences I have had in Australia and one of them was the reason why I walked around with a plastic front tooth for about a decade before I could afford to go to Manila and have a bridge put in.
Long story….and there are many like that in my history with dentists.
The main reason though, why we want to take our kids to the Philippines is to bring the full awareness to their dear little souls, of what gratitude truly is.
My seventeen year old gets cranky with me when I say “We just don’t realise what we truly HAVE here.” (besides good affordable dental care)
“I DO appreciate things mum!” she says.
“Don’t lump me in with all the other ungrateful teenagers!”
It’s true, she does…..but not “really”.
See, you just can’t be truly grateful for what you’ve got until you either don’t have it anymore, or you go to a world and viscerally experience seeing how others live. Smell it, hear it, feel and taste it!
Now I’ve seen a little of that before – growing up in Africa, BUT I was a very young child, so I saw things but truly didn’t understand them. Not like an adult can.
The Philippines to me is a world of complete contrast. It’s confusing to the senses in so many ways, but mostly that contrast thing.
Grand opulence and consumerism, juxtaposed by abject poverty, and these things sometimes almost existing side by side.
I tried to capture it in this video ….Some things though I couldn’t bring myself to film because I felt it was too invasive of the privacy, and dignity of these people.
I must say that besides being openly stared at constantly in the Philippines (Not sure why….I’m sure I don’t look THAT strange.) they are the most genuine, friendly, happy, smiling, polite people I have ever come across.
Their customer service just blows Australia out of the water entirely, and it’s not like it’s coming from a place of “I’m going to be as nice as possible to you so you will give me a huge tip.” No….it seems to come from simply wanting to do a great job! It’s genuine. Or at least feels genuine.
Sometimes to the point of being ridiculous.
I was offered a STOOL to sit on in a supermarket there, because an item didn’t have a price so I had to wait a little bit while they went and checked the price.
I nearly fainted – so lucky that stool was there. I mean, where on earth do you ever go ….in a supermarket, where they give you something to sit on while you wait?
A- ma-zing! A little embarrassing too, to be fussed over like that.
My husband needed to buy some new underwear when we were there.
At least six store attendants came rushing over to him flapping various styles of underpants in his face.”You like these sir? What about these?”
Funny as….especially because they were all women. Got him a bit flustered I think.
While I was having my bridge work done there was a few days where I had to wear a temporary, rather crude bridge and I was a bit self conscious about it ( Mind you here in Australia they would be happy to let you walk around completely toothless and not even offer this FREE temporary substitute. ) It was difficult to leave the hotel because at every corner there would be yet another hotel staff member grinning widely saying “Good morning Ma’am…Enjoy your day Ma’am”
I just had to smile back…even with weird looking teeth.
It was incredibly difficult for me to see the begging children. Especially the children. Yeah, I did give them money, even though the locals would shake their heads and tell me not to.
Hard to see old women…I mean really frail old women sleeping on the hard concrete streets.
Broke my heart.
Once I saw these things I began to feel guilty at all the things I’ve ever moaned about myself.
It made me think….Imagine if you were born into another world. I mean if you believe in spirituality, reincarnation even…. Imagine all the possibilities of who and where you could be?
Imagine being born into a culture say….where women are regarded as vastly inferior. Just your sex alone placing you down at the bottom of the barrel of importance. Without a voice, often, without choice. Victims of untold horror and despair.
Imagine being born into poverty. Starvation… what does that truly feel like? I mean you can’t can you?
Just even imagine being born in your OWN country, in poverty….homelessness….drug addiction….
All the possibilities….all the lives, but YOU have THIS one. The one you’re living right now.
My life could have been so much different.
My parents decided to immigrate to Australia when I was ten years old. They subsequently, and quite quickly upon arrival, got divorced.
My mother “could have” decided to take us back to Africa, where all her family is. She had nobody here.
I am so thankful that the cards fell as they did….that the universe provided a different road map, for me.
(Just look at all the twists and turns that have gotten YOU exactly where you are now? Imagine all the other possible scenarios?)
I am so thankful to live in Australia, to be sitting here on this beautiful summers day, with the sound of birds warbling in the tree’s, the lapping of the water on the lake, on the verandah of this lovely house, owned by a lovely friend, with the husband that I have and the children that are mine….
This life….this chance life.
Is it just chance?