Not literally, but metaphorically – let me explain…
Last week we watched a film called ‘The Way‘ starring Martin Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez to honor the Camino de Santiago and promote the traditional pilgrimage route. It tells the tale of a work-a-holic father, Tom, who goes to France following the death of his adult son, killed in the Pyrenees during a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), a Catholic pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. His purpose is initially to retrieve his son’s body. However, in a combination of grief and homage to his son, he decides to walk the ancient spiritual trail where his son died. On the way, he meets various characters who each have their own reasons for walking the route, be it for health, escape or spiritual reasons. As the film progresses, Tom begins to realise that there is more to life than being self-centred and working hard for a living at the expense of family time. My favourite quote from the film is at the beginning (and implied at the end) from his son, who says “Dad, you don’t choose your life, you live it.” I recommend you watch it, but have a box of tissues handy!
The film led hubby and I to reminisce about ‘magic moments’ in our lives and it was interesting how differently we interpreted which moment was ‘magic’ to us. For me, it was mainly to do with experiences I’ve had. For example, one day when I had been walking to work on a frosty morning after rain the night before I noticed all the leaves on the trees were covered in ice and were ‘tinkling’ in the breeze like a huge beautiful wind-chime and it sent shivers down my spine. Another time was when I spent time volunteering in Ghana for SightSavers International and met some amazing people, who, although they had little, made the most of what they had and were so welcoming and it made me appreciate that you don’t need much to be happy. For hubby, it was being able to make a difference to a client by negotiating a big contract. And of course, for us both, bringing our children into the world.
From this discussion we went on to talk about how fortunate we are to be in good health, have a roof over our heads and regular income to support our family.
Recently it seems, there has been a lot of sad news in the world; and also closer to home, I have friends and family who have been having a tough time with illness, loss of loved ones and financial & relationship challenges.
It’s at times like these that I reflect how lucky we are. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had our own challenges too. We’ve both been married before, we’ve been made redundant, we’ve suffered loss and been in difficult and dangerous situations, but somehow we’ve managed to come through intact, maybe with a few scars but feeling stronger for it, and no doubt there will be more challenges to deal with in the future.
However, had we been born into absolute poverty, conflict, neglect or any of these hardships we might not have been able to do the things we have chosen to do, which is why I say that we have ‘won the lottery’ – every day in fact. We might complain about taxes, the weather, the state of the economy or slow broadband, but we have free access to healthcare, clean water to our homes and access to education for everyone. Food is plentiful and fatal childhood diseases are rare. Life expectation is long and we have mail delivered to our door! We have religious and political freedom and people can marry who they want.
People say, “If I win the lottery, I would do so much to help others”. Why wait? There’s nothing to stop us from helping others right now. Some of the worlds most selfless people have also been some of the poorest.
So what am I really trying to say here? Well, for me, it’s appreciating what I’ve already got and not feeling that I NEED to win the lottery in order to feel fulfilled. Also, to see beauty in the things around us – we spend so much of our time with our heads full of work, watching TV or playing on our phones or computers, that sometimes we miss ‘magical moments’ and opportunities to enrich our lives and those of others. Every month we give money to charity – one of favourites is Care for the Family, but there are others too. I also like to ‘pay it forward‘ and give away some of my creations to others who then do the same, or give my time helping others, especially anything related to crafting!. There’s so much more we’d like to be able to do. We’re not perfect, but we do our best with what we have.
So, whether or not you believe that your life is decided by fate, choice or a guiding hand from above, try to live it as if you have already won the lottery.
Do you agree or am I just sentimental?!