The other day a well-meaning friend began a conversation with me that started with…one day, when you move into a bigger place…I stopped her there and smiled and said no, really I think the next place might be smaller. Hell, we might live in my car. She looked perplexed, laughed it off and changed the subject. Her comment got me thinking and reminded me of an important time…
A handful of years ago, I lived on the coast of Texas. During that time I worked a couple of jobs-one of which was owning a gardening business. The business consisted of pulling tons (yes, tons) of weeds, trimming tropical shrubs and palm trees and fighting off fire ants, poisonous snakes, over friendly Labradors and flying, stinging insects…(not nearly as glamorous as it sounds…:))
Most of my clients were very comfortable, if not slightly wealthy. With each of them, what I saw more often than not was the tendency to “hire everything done.” What I mean by that, basically, is they did no chores. I did the garden (when I say garden I mean an acre or so of plants), someone else mowed, washed windows, cleaned the pool, cleaned house, etc., etc. Every job was done by a contractor or contractors.
The home owners would spend their time relaxing in the pool, fishing, traveling, shopping–just enjoying themselves.
Not at all a bad way to live!
Occasionally I would end up inside their homes to help with something. In each of those homes (seriously-every single one) I would find, usually by the bar, a small decorative sign that read…
You might think it’s a bit odd for people who have enough resources to live so leisurely to have that sign hanging in their house.
I thought the same each time I found myself standing in one of their 4-5000 square foot homes, overlooking the sparkling gulf, while being covered in garden dirt and sand with weeds in my hair, trying not to drip sweat on their imported rug.
There was always an element to my thinking that was from a place of comparing what I had to what they had–what I had to do to make a dollar–their comfort versus mine, on and on. Inevitably (mostly because I was the gardener) I’d end up back outside, in the dirt and 105 degree heat, pulling weeds and wondering (grumbling) why my path and lot in life was so different than theirs.
Then one day while in a friend’s house I had an interesting experience. Her house was a old travel trailer, sitting on rotten tires, surrounded by similar structures in a trailer park tucked behind a dune. It was about 150 square feet of living space divided by imaginary lines where the table met the bedroom and the bed met the couch, and a small ficus tree hid the bathroom door. My friend cleaned many of my garden clients’ homes for a living.
As we sat and talked I looked out her small kitchen window (her view overlooked the land lady’s pink trailer and collection of faded plastic flamingos) and saw a small sign above the sink. To my surprise it read…”if you are lucky enough to live by the sea…you are lucky enough.”
She saw me looking at it and laughed. She said, “You know, I’ve dusted that same sign enough times, I just decided to get me one. You like it?” I said yes and then asked her if she believed what it said. “Why sure,” she replied, “any day I wake up and can hear the sea gulls talking to one another and smell the ocean, I am thankful. Very thankful.”
Huh. I was perplexed. On one hand I thought it ironic that my well-to-do clients had this hanging in their houses–but was it any less so in my friend’s trailer?
Which one was lucky enough? A person barely, barely scraping by or a person with 10-100 dollar bills in their pocket for walking around money?
I would suppose, in turn, it begs the question-what makes one lucky enough?
In the case of my friend versus my clients-I was making it about possessions, wealth, and the such.
But that’s not what my friend said. Her lucky enough was about things that were free to her.
Sea salt in the air–birds in the sky–things completely out of her control.
Do you suppose the answer would have been the same from my clients?
Today, as I sit in reflection of that day, I do believe their lucky enough answer would be similar to my friend’s.
I think the owners of that sign-regardless of where it hung-kept it as a reminder of some wisdom I just recently began to grasp:
Lucky enough isn’t on the outside of me. It’s not the big house. It’s not the small shed, the empty or full pocket or the view.
It’s not the triumph over struggle-because that road never ends–or rather it ends one way. It’s not the comparison of big things to little things—of me to another.
It’s not asking-when will I get there? When will I have enough? It’s not waiting for the next thing or the next.
It’s being upright and sucking air.
It’s my feet on the ground and my eyes to the endless sky.
It’s in this very moment-that I share with you because you are reading this.
Because you simply exist. Because we simply exist.
It’s the gratitude of this very unique moment that I will never see again.
Lucky enough? Oh, I think so indeed.
Love & light.