For a while now people have been asking me, “Michelle when are you going to start writing a blog”? Until now my response has always been, “what’s the point”? I never really understood. Why blog when you can sit down and have a conversation with someone? I’ll be honest, I’m old school. I was born in the ’70’s, a year before Elvis died, so I still buy Newspapers. Until I met my now fiancé in 2010 I was still recording TV shows on to video tapes, I owned a push button mobile phone with (heaven forbid) no internet access. And funnily enough I was really happy. I didn’t know I was missing out on anything. It’s a little like going to a third world country and seeing serious poverty for the first time. When you get home, you immediately show sympathy for the poor. You say things like “oh how terrible for them, they have nothing”. Oddly enough, when you visit countries like this, one of the first things you notice is that there are so many smiles. People don’t tend to look sad, or like they’re missing out on anything. One would have to wonder, if you’ve never been anywhere else, how would you know what you’re missing out on?
Many years ago I met a woman from Vietnam. She described what it was like in the aftermath of war and the feeling of not having much of the necessities like food and fresh water. When her family moved to Australia she recalled hearing the news that the suicide rate was on the rise. She told me that she hadn’t heard of suicide before, because where she came from, everyone fought so hard to stay alive. She also questioned why, in the “lucky country” people would do such a thing? It’s a good question, and one I still wonder about to this day.
We all feel sorry for ourselves from time to time and when I’m “having a moment” I remember the time I was in India. We needed to travel to Agra, to begin our hike through the Himalayas (which by the way was incredible). We went to the train station and it was explained to us that there would be porters who would want to carry our bags for us and we should let them because that’s how they made a living. So we all got our money ready, what we thought was reasonable. I was imagining I’d see some strapping young lad when we stopped. But when we hopped out of the bus I immediately had an elderly, bent over man rush up (as fast as his ageing legs could carry him) and grab my “packed to overflowing” suitcase. He swung it up into the air and landed it smartly on his head, then balancing it carefully with one hand on either side he walked surely but steadily toward the platform. I’ve gotta tell you I was riddled with guilt. For the duration of the walk I had to keep telling myself that this was the man’s job and he had a family to feed. That was all I could do to stop myself from grabbing it back and heaving it along myself. When we arrived at our destination I rummaged around in my money belt for additional cash. I decided that what I was going to give my porter wasn’t enough. So I handed over the cash and a look of complete surprise crossed his face. I should mention that Indians don’t believe in saying “thank you” they believe it’s something that should remain unsaid. And think it’s quite a ridiculous western custom. So that said, I urged one of our guides to translate so I could learn this man’s story. It turned out that he had been a farmer for much of his life. But eventually the farm failed to make him a living and he was forced to seek work at the train station when he was in his 60’s. He was 82 when I met him and he’d lost his wife. He said he had to walk about five kilometres to get something to eat because the food at the train station was too expensive. I asked, through my translator, whether he would ever stop work and the answer of course was “no” because there is no welfare there. He would work until the day he died. The final thing he told me was that he supported his children. Even though he had so little for himself, it was important that he help out his kids.
I will never forget this man, I think of him often and it reminds me that we will always have enough. It’s so important to focus on what we do have, rather than what we don’t. The glass is half full. There is enough for everyone.