My husband is falling apart. Now granted, he has worked all his life. The man didn't have the luxury of going to school and goofing off, spending time with friends and all the natural kid and teen stuff most of us experience.
His life as the eldest boy in the family consisted of going to help his mother and older sister in the fields, growing vegetables and fruits and selling them in the market to make a living. At around 6 he was carrying 100 lb. bags of beans on his back, which weighed more than he did! But if he didn't help out, his younger siblings would go hungry-so the pressure was always on to work from sunup to sundown, to provide for his family.
At almost 40, he has worked most of his life and wishes he could retire. His body aches, his bones are tired. He still does a labor intensive job, cleaning floors at the local supermarkets, working nights while I work days. His shoulder, his knee, and his feet all ache but he doesn't complain much. When he does complain, I know the pain has to be pretty darn bad since he has a very high threshold to pain and is much more tolerant than my wimpy self.
You hear so much about child labor in other countries, and it is so sad that children must give up an education in order to work to put food on the table. I was lucky in the fact that although we were poor, I lived with my grandparents and my mom-and they made sure I had an education first, and wouldn't allow me to work until after I'd graduated so nothing would interfere with my studies. Before I met my husband, I often griped about how I grew up. But now, looking back, I realize that I was much better off than many others in the world.
Even today, given the economy in our own country, families are facing extreme poverty, homelessness and hunger. On my recent trip to San Francisco last October, I happened to see a couple of homeless people down in the Embarcadero area. I felt so guilty sitting there eating a huge Kobe beef burger and watching hubby chow down on a Dungeness crab meal at a swanky restaurant while others were going hungry and foraging for food in the trash cans.
I am trying to teach my children to stop and take a look around. They have food, they have clothes, they are warm. There are many who don't have even these necessities on a daily basis. My hope is that by keeping them aware of just how lucky they are that they have these basic necessities they will realize that another stuffed animal or video game in addition to the many they already have is not a need, but a WANT, and certainly not a priority. So many times I have heard, "But I NEED it!" when in fact it should be "I WANT it!" Teaching them the difference between needs and wants is not always easy, but definitely a necessary fact of life. This is another reason I want to have my daughter visit Central America, so that she can see the extreme poverty, the children on the street begging, the shacks they live in. She has never seen that, and I feel it will do her good to open her eyes to other cultures, and other parts of the world that live in poverty.
Life can be harsh, life can be cruel. It can be easy or it can be difficult. Given opportunity, one can rise above the obstacles and make something of themselves. Or they can sink and wallow in self-despair. The stones that we encounter on our daily path in life can be a learning experience, or they can throw us into a downward spiral. We can live life to the fullest, or barely get by living life at all. We can have sunny, pleasant attitudes or attitudes that are dampened by dreary gray clouds that follow us around always hanging overhead...or maybe we can even be somewhere in between the clouds and the sun.
I've known rich people who were miserable, and dirt poor people that were happier than ever. Life is what we make of it, true happiness comes from within. So you may not have everything you want in life, maybe you never will. But look around you and cherish what you DO have. Be proud of what you have accomplished, and what goals in life you have completed. Don't sulk for the things you DON'T have but smile instead for the things you DO have. Trust me, in time you will be a much happier person. Live for today, dream about tomorrow, but take the time to appreciate life NOW.