If you are reading this blog, there is a very good chance you have a computer or some device that allows you to access the internet. I know, statement of the obvious there, but follow along if you will. There is also a pretty good chance that you live a decent life; you can put food on the table, have electricity, and probably even running water. I could be wrong with some of these, but my point is that most of the people reading this don't have to worry in excess about the basic necessities that we look for when living our lives. Many of these things we don't even think about and instead some of us might even complain that we don't have more. Especially in the U.S., there is a constant drive to have or get more. One car is not enough for a family, we need at least two or more to be "comfortable". That 42" flat screen TV doesn't quite look right on that enormous wall in a person's house, so they go out and buy a 52". The point is, often times we gloss over the essentials in our lives without taking the time to appreciate them. We don't understand what it is like to live without knowing if the electricity will be working when we get out of bed or if water will come out of the faucet when we go to wash our face. For us, it is a luxury to have constant, un-interrupted electricity and clean water coming out of the tap (unless you live in Flint, MI). Yet, for a good portion of the world population, these simple things are a luxury.
A little over a month ago now, we bought a new refrigerator to replace two old ones that we had that were sucking electricity like water down a drain. When they delivered and installed it, I was the one who made it home to open the house and clear stuff out of their way. As with anyone who comes to work at our house, I ended up talking to the delivery guys as I had nothing better to do. Plus, I like finding out about people, hearing their stories, and getting a different perspective on life. We talked about our kids and the joys they bring. At one point, the gentleman putting the doors on our fridge asked about the rain barrels we have set up to collect rain water around our house. His question was if we use that water for drinking? Having a well with a plentiful amount of water on demand, I said, "no, we use those to water our vegetable garden." I thought the question odd at first, but he elaborated without a probing question from me. It turns out that where he is from in Jamaica, they use those to collect water for drinking and everyday use as they don't know when the water will be running or not and don't know whether it will be clean enough to drink. He also mentioned as an addendum that the same goes for electricity down there. It is intermittent and no guarantee. This made me pause and search for a response that would be appropriate. I think I actually stumbled over my words. It was just one of those things that I never thought about and just took for granted. I think I said that I couldn't imagine what it would be like not knowing if electricity or water would be running. The conversation moved on from there and it turns out he has been here for 12 years, his anniversary with his wife was that day and he was excited to be finishing early so he could get home to her. While the fundamentals of how we grew up were radically different, the daily emotions and interactions with people are universal. We all have loved ones we care about and yearn to get home to and we all want the best for our families.
That conversation made me look at things a little bit differently. If I hadn't taken the time to sit down on a stool and engage the delivery guys in conversation, I would not have heard their perspective on life or what their struggles were. I would not have seen what it is I take for granted every day. It was a humbling experience and one that I will likely not forget. Even a month later, it still resonates with me that for him, living without a guarantee of running water or electricity was just life. It was what he was used to until he moved to the United States. There was no basis for comparison until he moved here. For him, I am sure that not a day goes by where he doesn't think about what a luxury it is now to have running water and constant electricity. For many of us, it is a given that it will be there unless some freak accident like a storm happens to knock it out. At least for myself, I will try not to take for granted the little things and instead try to appreciate them more. Also, I will engage anyone in conversation so that I can gain a better perspective on life. We may all live with different struggles, but at our core, we are all human and deal with the same daily, human struggles.