We seemed to be falling into hard times now. What we want, we never seemed to get- or when we get, eventually we end up wanting more.
Spending almost a year staying in a foreign country had really changed my perspective about life and everything in general. Living with the rich as well as the poor had taught me great lessons.
But it was living amongst the hill tribe people in Northern Thailand that had taught me many priceless lessons about life. Most of these hill tribe people never make any money on most days.
They survive by planting crops, catching fishes at the river, and going to to forests to pluck editable things like mushrooms and vegetables. They will gladly put in a days’ of hard labor for just 100 baht (about RM10). Life is simple- bathing in the river, cooking using firewood, etc- and digging a hole using a shovel somewhere behind the bushes when we need to poo poo…..Me, a typical city girl who never done these things- and to my surprise, gave me a totally new perspective about life.
Yet, they are happy and contended with little. Most of them never had the luxury of eating junk food or drinking a can of Coke, but they spend quality time with the kids. Parents will bring their kids to bathe in the river- using an old tyre or bamboo as makeshift floats. I stayed there for almost 2 months, and yet I could say that I would never look at life the same way I did before.
One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is learning to be contended and thankful for what we have.
Today, the reminder came again in another form. I was parking my car (alongside with other cars) illegally in front of a bus stop while waiting for someone at the hospital. I was catching up on some reading while waiting in the car. When I looked up to rest my eyes, I caught a sight that touched my heart:
Seated in front of me at the bus stop, there is a mother and her child. She must be about 9 or 10 years old. The mother held out some char koay (a local fried flour cake) to the child in a plastic bag.
The child is not an ordinary child- she is bald, except for a few strands of hair right at the top of her head… a clear indication that she is undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Her young face looked old and haggard on her small frame due to the effects of the treatment.
As the mother held out the cake for her, I caught a momentarily glimpse of sadness in her eyes. The mother is a beautiful and attractive Malay lady in her 40s. The child gave her mom a bright smile as if she does not have any concern in the world. The mother smiled, said something, and both of them laughed together. Not long later, a small car, driven by a man whom I presumed is the father, came and pick both of them up. The girl opened the front seat of the passenger door and flashed a bright smile to her father and got in. The mom went and sat at the back, saying something and smiling.
The mother and father are living life one day at a time. When you have someone in the family who are suffering from an illness like cancer or leukemia, you’ll never know whether he/she will still be alive the next day/next week/next year. It breaks your heart, but you cannot afford to dwell in the sadness or think too much in the future- every day he/she is with you is God’s blessing, is a priceless gift. This is the reality of life that the TV seldom show but it does happen to real people. Most of us tend to take our family members and our loved ones for granted- assuming that they’ll always be there for us while we neglect them and concentrate on other areas in life. Unfortunately, the wake up call always come when something bad happens to the ones we love.
Why are we always feeling unhappy about ourselves and life in general? It is because we always concentrate on what we don’t have and what we want. All we can focus day at night is the lack, lack and lack of everything. The lack came because we compare with others- so the lack drives us to work harder and harder, usually for something that we really don’t need.
Why not instead learn to calm the inner whispering of discontent by looking around us, and finding things in life to be grateful for? No matter how bad we think that our lives sucked, there is always something to be grateful for. Always.