November 2016

hands-in-prayer

Gratitude Is the Only Attitude.

November has been a hell of a month.

First, there was the election.

I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that the country I now call home has chosen a leader who is either A) a bigoted, misogynistic pumpkin-faced loudmouth or B) an pumpkin-faced loudmouth who masqueraded as a bigoted misogynist to secure the votes of his electorate. I honestly don’t know which is worse.

Then there was the RWA contest I had entered in June and entirely forgotten about until I looked in my inbox to find that I had won!

I was elated. Until I read the fine print. The contest was for unpublished works. And while “Dance with Me” hadn’t yet been published when I entered the contest, by the time the contest closed, it had. I fessed up. My entry was disqualified.

And finally, there was our house.

When we purchased it in July, we knew we had bitten off more than we could chew financially, but thought it was worth the price for the location and features. But after months passing without a week where something didn’t break, we’re beginning to have our doubts.

Three weeks ago, the double wall-oven called it quits. This week it was the sump-pump and the garage-door opener. And our basement flooded. Twice. My salary from the seasonal job I took to cover our start-up costs and Christmas presents is going down the drain. Literally.

And yet, when I think back on another period in my life when I was feeling particularly hard done by, I know I have a lot to be grateful for.

It was 1998 and I was living in Indonesia. While I loved my job and my students, I was living in a house with no A/C or hot water and suffering from both severe homesickness and frequent bouts of diarrhea. And that was before the military coup.

But as I choked down my Imodium and boarded the bus that would take me through the eerily silent streets of Jakarta, past burned-out buildings and abandoned windowless cars to the airport and the plane that would evacuate me and dozens of other Canadian expats to safety, I knew I was lucky.

Luckier, certainly, than Tri, the shy Javanese girl who mopped our floors and washed our clothes – by hand – made our beds and cooked our meals, all for $30 a month. She would go back to her village to wait out the coup and hope for the best. That the corrupt government of Suharto would be replaced by one less corrupt. That when the dust settled, she would be able to find another job, hopefully paying as much.

The fact is, you, me – we are the exception. Tri? She’s the rule.

Broken garage door opener? Boo hoo. 71 % of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day. That’s not spending money. That’s food, rent, taxes, everything.

Morally suspect president? At least he was truly elected by the people and is beholden both to them and the laws of the country. Of the nearly 7 billion people in the world, only half live in true democracies.

Contest entry disqualified? I was fortunate to have the education and resources to enter it. Two thirds of the 234 million illiterate people in the world are women. And while the gender gap in education is closing world-wide, it’s still an issue.

So, when I sat down with my family for Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey roasted to golden-brown perfection in my new oven, I remembered Tri and felt truly blessed for the riches that surround me and opportunities that I have:

Family. Friends. Security. Health. Education. Freedom. Peace. And one damn fine turkey.

All the best,

Hazel