In preparation for a few upcoming trips (WDS & Safari), I decided to walk downtown one morning last week to go exchange some Canadian currency for U.S. dollars. During this walk, I decided to take a shortcut through the train station and made an unexpected discovery that provided a good reminder of needing to count my blessings.

Inside the train station. Truly a beautiful building that is currently being restored.

Once inside the station, I stumbled upon a dozen people or so who had just become Canadian citizens. They were leaving the Canada’s Citizenship Ceremony / Testing Centre, which is apparently housed inside this building. These new Canadians were surrounded by loved ones and were obviously overjoyed to have achieved this important personal milestone. It wasn’t difficult to identify who had just “made it”.

This realization stopped me dead in my tracks. I started to notice everything about them: every smile, laugh, gesture, cultural cue, and every single small Canadian flag that many of them and their family members were waving with delight. 

A Mega-dose Of Gratitude

It made me think about how lucky we are to live in one of the greatest countries in the world. We were winners of the “ovarian lottery”, our ticket to being born in the land of plenty. We feel entitled to what we have and, to many of us, any less would be martyrdom. 

As I continued my walk, I started imagining what it would be like to live in one of the countries of origin personified in this unique group at the train station:

  • Walking miles for safe drinking water, if you're lucky enough to have access to it.
  • Depending on food rations to feed yourself and your family.
  • Living in such tight quarters that a 2 X 3 foot space is enough for you to set up shop and try to earn a living.
  • Accepting an arranged marriage when you’re still a child.
  • Struggling with whether you can afford to send your children to school.
  • Living in fear that you may be kidnapped, assaulted, robbed or worse.
  • Finding whatever you can salvage to build yourself a dwelling.
  • Wishing for the basics to make life better: a sturdy home, a bicycle, a goat or a cow.

Canadian flag I encountered on my way back home.

Recalling the contents of two of Peter Menzel’s books that I had just finished reading, Hungry Planet and Material World, were a considerable help during my contemplation, as was Brother David Steindl-Rast's "Want to be happy? Be grateful" Ted Talk.

As a result of this personal dose of perspective, I was filled with gratitude for everything I have, have had, and will have in the future and how effortless it all seems to achieve compared to the many obstacles others have to deal with to merely survive, let alone thrive. It made me feel that we have so much, too much, and that we often don’t even appreciate it. We exist in a whole different dimension of wants and needs, a quantum leap from where most of the world exists, both mentally and physically.

How Lucky Are You?

What about you? Do you want to get a sense of just how lucky you are? This might help: I stumbled upon a link Will Lipovsky posted to the Global Rich List in the comments section of the Worthometer Canada post over at Frugal Fringe. You can enter your income or your net worth and see where you are on the global wealth scale. I scored 1.34% and I have to admit that I was pleased and embarrassed at the same time.

That walk definitely offered food for thought, and then some. At the end of it all, I was:

  • Proud of the accomplishment I witnessed, 
  • Saddened that more of my fellow Canadians and I are not filled with gratitude every day for what we have and get to enjoy regularly and, most of all, 
  • Grateful to have received a dose of reality that, hopefully, is helping me hit a sort of “reset button” to help me see the country through the eyes of those who long desperately to be here.
Click this image for a fun YouTube video of the "Oh...Canada" song by the group Classified.

Click this image for a fun YouTube video of the "Oh...Canada" song by the group Classified.

Oh, Canada! 

What about you? How do you feel about where you live, and how you live? What are you grateful for?


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