I was shocked to hear my friend blurt this out over dinner. From the outside, his life seemed picture-perfect, as good as it gets for this middle-aged man – or anyone at any age.
He has a great family with a caring wife. His three kids excelled in school and stayed out of trouble, and they are now launching to be productive and responsible adults and citizens. He and his wife are both professionals and well-respected in their community. They have an active social life and are set financially.
What was so sucky about his life?
I probed a bit and learned that, understandably, he had good reasons for his sentiment. But life sucks? Hmm, I couldn’t agree.
“I understand,” I told him, “but you have a good family with great kids, you’re in a respectable profession, you’re financially stable and set for comfortable retirement. A lot of people aren’t so fortunate. Let’s try to focus on the positive.”
Given that we were both born in South Korea, I wondered out loud, what if we were born a couple of hundred miles north? We would be living under the dictator with a funny haircut who likes to shoot missiles and indulge in luxury while his people starve. Who knows? We might not even be alive today.
Fortunately, we both live and work as professionals in the wealthiest and the most powerful nation in the world – the land of opportunity (yes, still). No, America is not perfect. You don’t have to be a news junkie to pick up on all the ugly stuff that’s going on.
Still, it was in this country – flawed though it may be – where we were able to flourish. We could freely choose from the many top educational institutions, acquire skills, and find jobs that pay fairly. We had to work hard at times, but we were generally rewarded for our hard work in one form or another.
Oh, by the way, let’s not forget that we had nothing to do with being able to live in this country. Goodness, I feel like I won the lottery, I exclaimed. Don’t you feel lucky?
On balance, maybe we don’t control our destiny as much as we’d like to admit. For starters, we can’t choose our parents or where we are born. We certainly contributed nothing to the talents or other genetic attributes we were born with.
He nodded his head slowly, his gaze softening again.
Life throws us a lot of curve balls to be sure. It’s not always smooth sailing. Still, I believe, it’s good for our souls to zoom out once in a while and count our blessings. Maybe we can, even for a few fleeting moments, wake up to the reality around us. How lucky we are. That we have enough.
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