Monday, November 03, 2008

This Post is Completely Plagiarized: With Apologies/Gratitude to C.

This post is completely plagiarized; words and ideas stolen from a dead woman, no less. Recently a woman in our building died and Nicole and I went to her funeral. The minister delivered a beautiful sermon that he said was actually an email sent to him by the deceased woman (before she died, obviously!). It was so moving and humbling and well said. I emailed the priest and asked him if he could email me the sermon. I really wanted to save it and reread it when I was having One Of Those Days. He never responded. Discouraging.

I decided to recreate it myself, in the same spirit and general outline, because the message is important for me to remember. So this is her dream, her ideas and her message; I am just the messenger.

It starts out with a dream. C., who was dying of cancer, dreamt that she was getting a tour of heaven. Her angel guide took her to a huge room, miles and miles and miles long. It was filled with millions of angels working hard. C. asked what this room was and her angel guide responded: “This is the prayer receiving department. This is the place where the prayers of the people of the world go. The prayers are organized here.” Then the angel guide took C. to a second room, equally as large, but twice as busy. C. asked what this room was. Her angel guide responded: “This is the prayer fulfillment department. All of these angels are busy working on answering people’s prayers.” The guide then took C. to a third room. This room was small, tiny even, with a single desk and one single angel sitting at it. “What room is this?” C. asked. “Well,” said her guide said, “This is the Acknowledgment Department. This is the place where people’s appreciation and thanks are received. It only needs one part time worker.”

That was the general gist of it. Maybe this wasn’t really a dream of hers, but rather perhaps an allegory that is passed around religious circles to remind people to Thank God or whoever they worship. Maybe it is an internet spam message, like that “wear Sunblock” graduation speech. Regardless, it moved me, it resonated in me. The message is clear: Many of us want want want and when we get, we lack appreciation. And many of us are not grateful for what we already have.

To illustrate her point, C. went on to list so eye-opening statistics. I wasn’t able to remember all of them (I had to research each one here to get the proper percentages) but, again, this is the gist of it:

• If you have internet access, consider yourself part of an elite crowd: Only 10 percent of the world’s population can claim access.

• If you live on more than $1.25 a day, consider yourself lucky: 1.4 billion (that’s 25 percent of developing country populations) live on less than $1.25 a day. Think of that the next time you spend five buck on a grande something at Starbucks.

• If you have a working toilet at your disposal, you are privileged: 2.6 billion of the world’s citizens have no toilets and no access to toilets.

• If you have running water, you are lucky: One in two of the world’s population don’t have running water. Think of that the next time to step into a shower.

• If you have ever used a phone, you are indeed privileged: Half of the people in this world have never made a phone call. And to think most of us have cell phones, land lines and Blackberries at our disposal.

• If you own or lease a car or have access to a car, then you are part of the 9 percent of the world’s population that can claim that. 91 percent of the world’s population do not have a car or have access to a car.

• If you have the ability to further your education, you are in an elite crowd: About 25 percent of the world’s population have a bachelors degree and nine percent have a Masters degree.

The things I take for granted are the things that make me one of the lucky. I bitch about washing dishes, but who knew that running water is such a rare commodity? In theory, I know this, but it is easy to forget about the rest of the world. We don’t see true poverty that much in our neck of the world.

I’d like to think I am a grateful person. I am grateful for my two daughters: As a woman who never thought that she would get pregnant and stay pregnant and who tried for years to get pregnant, I am still shocked that I have two living, breathing babies in my life. I am grateful for Nicole and our home and my life. I am grateful for health, but don’t like to think about it, for fear of jinxing us. I am grateful that I am not visiting loved ones in a cancer hospital or worrying about paying the electric bill or wondering how to afford food. But I am not a saint and this gratitude often gets buried. How do we unbury this? How do we eschew this sense of entitlement or this false sense of need and this disease of more more more?

C.’s ultimate message was that none of us are promised more than this very moment, and we need to be grateful for that, and we need to be grateful for all that we have already been given, because if we started to keep score, we would realize we all already have a lot.

Pictured above, the girls on their Stone Ponies. And below that, the awesome Pink, at a live show she gave in NYC on Halloween. I really need (there is that “need” word again….) a zoom lens. Her new album is awesome.


calliope said...

wow. C.'s vision/dream reminds me a lot of a near death experience my grandfather had in the 80's. In fact I have heard of a couple other people having these sort of visions of what happens NEXT and I find them extremely comforting.

& seriously- the girls in plaid?LOVE!

Mrs. Fire Family said...

What a great post to start the week off with. Saying a few prayers of thanks as I get my girls ready this morning.

Mrs. Fire Family said...

What a great post to start the week off with. Saying a few prayers of thanks as I get my girls ready this morning.

SJayneI said...

Awesome post; thanks for plagerizing for us!

Omrithekat said...

I just flippin saw you on the Today show!!