I ran into an old acquaintance today. During our discussion, she let on how tired she is - tired of working full-time and not keeping up. Everything from gas to milk is more expensive and she's overwhelmed; she expressed guilt over registering her child for an art-camp for Spring Break, instead of jetting off to some tropical locale for a sun-soaked family vacation. As gently as I could, I reminded her that I, and my entire generation, grew up without family vacations to Cuba or Hawaii.
We grew up outside, building forts, riding bikes, playing hop-scotch, and role-playing Gilligan's Island on an imaginary deserted island. We jumped rope, baked mud pies, caught frogs and climbed trees. We turned the sound off on the television and turned the music up on the stereo and laughed ourselves silly as Linda Ronstadt's voice erupted from Merv Griffin's mouth. We collected cans to recycle for cash, or simply sprawled on our stomachs and watched ants stream in and out of conical entrances toting their bounty to their underground homes. We dressed in our parents clothes and put on intimate concert performances in the living room to captive audiences (our parents of course). With dad's permission, we drove the car up and down the driveway, or clambered over the tractor and pretended we were heavy construction operators building a new city. We stomped in mud puddles. Balanced on backyard fences. Raced wagons down the hill outside our home. We were never bored. Ever. Because, if we somehow managed to find ourselves at loose ends, our parents quickly found something for us to do.
Out came the mop, broom, or axe. Floors needed washing. Carports sweeping. Wood chopping. There was grass to mow. Dogs and cats to feed. Weeds to pull. Windows to wash. Carpets to vacuum. And at the end of the day, when chores and fun were done and the sky purple with impending night, there was family programming, or a hockey game on TV. We watched together, warm, safe, secure in the knowledge that what we lacked financially, we made up in spades with love.
As world events, like the tragedy in Japan this week or New Zealand last month, show us, money cannot buy happiness. Homes collapse. Jobs and businesses disappear under the crushing weight of cement or water. And when people have nothing left, they don't wander around searching for their wallets or employee badges - they look for children, parents, brothers and sisters; friends. They look for the people they love, and who love them, because at the end of the day, that is all anyone wants--to love and be loved.
It is time to rethink how we live, what we strive for. Children don't need IPhones. Or Spring Break trips to Cancun. They need food, shelter, health care, education, discipline, and love. Basics. Basics desperately needed by people in Japan, Haiti, New Zealand, and other countries around the world.
If you're fortunate enough to have the basics covered and be in a position to donate to help those that don't, please consider doing so. Below are some links to various organizations that I in no way promote or endorse, but simply include as examples of National and International aid agencies. Please do your own homework to assure yourself of an organization's validity before donating.
Canadian Red Cross
American Red Cross
World Health Organization
Canadian Search Dog Association
1st Special Response Group
National Association for Search and Rescue (U.S.)
Variety of rescue organizations provided as links through Canadian Government site.
You have not lived a perfect day, even though you have earned your money, unless you have done something for someone who will never be able to repay you. ~Ruth Smeltzer