I was born lucky. I would have chosen my parents right from the start. I was loved and I felt loved. Maybe they chose me and maybe I chose them. They were a perfect fit. I would never claim I was better than others or worse than others. I know that I saw the world around me with a different view than others had. When my friends and neighbors complained about their siblings or parents, I remained silent or said I would choose the same two brothers and the same four sisters and the same parents.
We didn’t always agree on some subjects but I knew that our parents were special. It wasn’t about money. Money didn’t buy happiness. It wasn’t about material things at all. We learned to enjoy the foods we had, mostly beans and potatoes and corn bread, and occasionally biscuits and gravy. It wasn’t about the things we didn’t have. We learned to use what we had and do without the things we didn’t have. Flour sacks became clothes. Hand-me-downs were common. Time spent with family was valuable time. Respect and truth and love were important. Each day was part of a life-long learning experience.
Even though I didn’t have much I learned how to work, how to play, how to enjoy the world every day. I was not perfect but I didn’t feel mean or rotten. I wanted to help people who were hurting, sad, or lonely. I was usually considered “nice”. I was a good person, willing to help neighbors and friends. I could change a tire, carry buckets of water, travel across countries, and participate in games without getting angry as long as there were rules to follow. I believed in rules and fairness.
Lucky? Maybe I should say I was treated fairly in life. When I saw what others had, what they needed, and the conditions surrounding them, I knew I was blessed. The world around us did not appear fair in its treatment to others. Perhaps I was so naïve or oblivious to problems that I escaped what could have been painful experiences.
When I compared my circumstances with others, I began to wake up and observe. When I visited a friend who made great claims regarding things he owned, I discovered the truth. His imagination gave him all the things he didn’t have. He didn’t live in a mansion. He didn’t drive a fancy car. He was surrounded by problems that he chose not to see. He was ashamed to invite me inside his house. The house was tiny and crowded. The windows were broken and needed replacements. The floor had holes. The house was cold and damp.
The worst of it was the human factor. How could they survive with conditions like this? It got worse. In another room his brother sat on a bed in dirty clothes. His eyes were glazed over, flies were clustered all over his face, and yet he was smiling. I could not imagine living in that home. His parents were sitting at the kitchen table, discussing the weather, waiting for some super cells to hit the area, and wondering where to go.
Maybe that is why I began volunteering, helping out when I could. I came into this world looking to do something for others and this was my opportunity to quit talking and begin acting. I am lucky because I got a good start in life. My life has been blessed even though I have physical problems. Physical problems will not hold me back. I am a poet and a writer. I must encourage others to help make the world a better place. I must act quickly because death is always waiting and I don’t have time to die.
July 23, 2017