Today is Canada Day, and we have another chance to celebrate how grateful we are to live in a country which is free, and rich (in both dollars and resources), and full of beautiful wide-open spaces. When Ava was a newborn, I remember sitting in the rocking chair in the dead of night while she nursed, weeping as my thoughts turned to all of the babies in third world countries or orphanages who cried because they were hungry and no one came to hold them, feed them or love them.
I'm embarrassed to say that eight years ago, when Ava was an infant, was one of the first times that I really considered the pain and suffering of other humans. I think I was just so happily sheltered as a Canadian kid, teen and young adult before that time, taking for granted all that was so easily given to me. Having my own baby, and responding to her primal needs, awakened the idea that not all babies in all places would have that certainty of care, and it quite literally broke my heart.
Since that time, I've been appreciative of Canada in an entirely new way. We have so much, and with such prosperity comes a rigid sense of entitlement, and often disillusionment when you strive for success and find it, only to discover it doesn't meet the deepest needs of your soul. It's a double-edged sword. We have so much, and yet we want more. Then we get more, and we find it doesn't satisfy the way we thought it would.
Our expectations have the potential to crush us at any given time. If we lived in a place where gunfire was heard regularly or we had no ability to plan for our next meal, our priorities would be radically different. Instead, most of us have more than many people in other countries, but we end up jealous of our neighbour who drives a newer car than we do or has trendier clothes or takes flashier vacations.
I'm not preaching here because I am dead guilty of all of this. I know I'm not as grateful as I'd like to be for all that I have. I want to hold loosely to my possessions and my sense of success because I know that what we don't carry inside of us tarnishes and can be lost at any given time. I hate competing with others and feeling like I'm either losing or winning, as neither experience is a positive one.
Awareness is important. I am glad I had that profound moment of truth when Ava was a tiny baby, because it changed me somehow, and made me notice more around me. I can cultivate a sense of gratitude instead of entitlement. This goes against the grain of our culture, but I can't teach this to my children if I don't thoroughly believe it myself, so I work on it.
Like everything, it's a process, but today, as we go to Banff to celebrate living in this beautifully free nation, I am profoundly aware of how much we have been given. I feel incredible joy to be a Canadian, and today is a day to celebrate that.