For the past several weeks, and for several more yet to come, I have been kickin’ it in the most exciting town of Westminster. Luckily for me, I got a job working in Owings Mills for an online company that sells personalized ornaments (www.ornamentsandmore.com), better get your order in quick if you want your very own personalized ornament for the 2012 holiday season! I am a writer there, so I spend all day every day writing names, dates and special messages on ornaments of all kinds. Its an okay job, my boss is hilarious, I get paid well and I spend all day plotting what my next move is to become best friends with Donovan, who works in proofing and exudes coolness.
The transition from Moab to the greater Baltimore area has been quite jarring for a plethora of reasons. For one, going from living in a normally rambunctious house full of active, nature-loving twenty-somethings to living with my parents and my 16 year old sister is just about as different as you can get. Yes, its nice to have my very own room, sleep in a big bed and eat home-cooked food that I didn’t make, but its much less fun (no offense Mom and Dad). Only a few of my high school friends are still in the area and getting in the car for at least thirty minutes to go see them seems like a daunting task when I used to be in at least yelling distance from many friends. However, this aspect of the transition pales in comparison to the differences in my surroundings. Growing up (mostly) in the greater Baltimore area, you would think I would be used to here. Give me a solid six months in the desert though and this landscape becomes completely foreign, and ten times uglier than it used to be. Where I used to be surrounded by the stark and raw beauty of red rock cliffs and gorgeous mountains, I am now surrounded by billboards, McMansions, big box stores and traffic everywhere I go.
In just a week short weeks back in Maryland, I’ve developed a severe heartache for the desert. I miss the endless blue sky, the way you could see thousands of stars and the Milky Way at night, the deep orange and red hues of the canyons and the way they contrast with the La Sal Mountains as their backdrop. I miss having between 5 and 30 other twenty-somethings always up for an epic adventure exploring canyons or the Colorado River. I miss the way nature stares you in the face, here you have seek it out.
These complaints and thoughts however seemed totally superfluous this morning when I opened up the newspaper and saw three tragic looking Afghan children in tattered clothes, who burn trash to stay warm, staring back at me. I am lucky, I realized. I may not be currently living where I want to, but at least I’ve had and have the freedom and opportunity to move around and see other cities, let alone other countries. I am lucky to go to sleep every night in a warm house and not worry about whether or not I’ll wake up in the morning. I am lucky to know day in and day out that I will be getting not just enough to eat, but have a choice in what I’m eating. I am lucky to be employed, even though it may not be my dream job. I am lucky to have a college education and no student loans.I am lucky to have a family who loves me and even supports my semi-dirt bag lifestyle in Utah.
The photo of those children got me thinking how totally trivial all of the problems in my life (and most others’ lives in the US) really are. We spend a lot of our time thinking and talking about our problems, complaining about slow internet, drama between friends, why we don’t like what the cafeteria is serving for lunch, etc. I challenge each and every one of you to at least try to start gearing your thinking in a more positive direction. Find something beautiful each day, for me its usually the sunset when I’m leaving work, and be amazed by what nature can do. Think about what things in your life you feel lucky for, try to find at least five every day, but I bet you can find more. Go further, reach out a helping hand to those in need. Donate to charity, volunteer at a local soup kitchen, let your brother have the last piece of pie, let the person who puts their blinker on at the last minute to change lanes in front of you, spread good fortune to others who can only hope to be as lucky as you are.