I recently read a wonderful book called 'The Postmistress' by Sarah Blake. I'm a sucker for World War II romantic novels (hence my love affair with Rosamunde Pilcher) and this book struck me as very timely in its comments about the randomness of life and death in war-time. Like this year's Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker, 'The Postmistress' turned my thoughts to current war conditions, and got me thinking about the everyday things I take for granted in my life as a Canadian in 2010.
We are free, but only because men and women gave their lives so we could enjoy this freedom. As a nation, we reflect on this in November, but I'm trying to teach my kids (and myself) to be more aware of it on a daily basis. Every day we are alive is a day to give thanks. I want to appreciate my life in a new way; to stop focusing on the problems and enjoy the sweet moments. There are no guarantees. We have today to breathe, to touch, to taste and to discover.
I want to stop worrying about what I can't control. We get one shot at life. We need to make it count, and to create peace and joy where we are. The thought of war terrifies me, as I'm sure it does for people who are experiencing it, but somehow I imagine it brings communities together in a completely new way.
In our independent Canadian culture, where people can't converse anymore without someone glancing down and texting on their cell phone, we think we don't need each other the way people once did. I hate how separate we've all become. How smug we can be when our lives aren't in immediate danger and we have our every need met. I want to replace the smug, entitled attitude in my own life with gratitude that flows naturally from me.
I need to trade envy for thankfulness. I don't need more clothes, a better car or expensive vacations. I need air in my lungs, a smile on my face, and the realization that I am safe in a physical, emotional and mental sense when others are not so fortunate.
I'm not sure how to breed gratitude into my children unless they follow it by example. My kids won't have any concept of what children in Iraq might be experiencing, and of course I'm grateful for that, but freedom is a precious gift that must be appreciated to be enjoyed.
When we haven't fought the war to win the freedom, we don't fully understand how much it cost, and therefore it can be easy to take for granted. I don't want to take my freedom for granted anymore. I'm going to live today with new eyes to see how amazing it is to be a Canadian in this moment in history. I'm grateful for those who gave me this gift, and will work to remain aware of what I have been given.