Father Sez

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Counting my blessings again and again

Tuesday February 5th, 2008 by fathersez

I am just rounding up my trip to Mali, West Africa and am preparing to go home. For geography and statistics buffs, a summary of the country is listed here. (by no less than the CIA).

It is a very poor country, with a GDP per capita of USD1,200 per annum. As with most statistics, this is an average.

Much like if you put your legs in boiling water and cover your head with ice, statistically you would be warm all over. So you see a large number of Mercs on the road, except that the owners probably represent less than 1% of the population.

The population breakdown shows almost 50% between 0 -14 years of age, a really young population.

Fortunately for me, I did not have a whirlwind schedule like what Brip Blap described recently. We had a chance to visit two towns away from the capital. (Though I really wanted to, I could not visit famed Timbuctoo, about a 1,000 km from the capital.)

The lessons I am bringing home for myself is deep, unbridled gratitude.

Gratitude for the unexplained events of chance that resulted in me being brought up in my country, where I had a much better education and hence a better chance at life.

Gratitude that I am better off than perhaps 95% of Mali’s population of 12 million people.

Gratitude that whatever my debt levels may be, I still have a very decent roof over my head, food on the table, electricity at the flick of a switch and clean fresh water at the turn of a tap.

Gratitude that my children have a much better life than those little boys and girls who, burnt black by the sun, run after cars and try to sell tissues, toothbrushes and other assorted items.  

My wife continualy advises me that we should always look downwards, so that we look at the so many people who do not have what we have and feel grateful. Rather than upwards at all those Richie Rich people and envy them.

I slip up on this quite often.

The trip has nailed this lesson to me once again.

MMND has mentioned a memorable quote in her article on the proven power of gratitude.

“In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.”

Albert Clarke

May my gratefulness today and everyday make me happy!

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8 Comments for “Counting my blessings again and again”

On February 5, 2008
At 7:16 pm

That’s a very moving post. Just by virtue of the fact that we’re using computers and have access to the internet we can assume that we have a higher standard of living than most of the population of the globe. It is important to remember how lucky we are, and how we should be grateful for that, rather than spending our time in envy of those who have more.

Thanks for the mention - very good post.

by fathersez
On February 5, 2008
At 8:54 pm


You are so right.

Being right here in Mali drives the point even harder. It is physical and we can see it all around us.

Thanks for dropping by.

by Emily
On February 5, 2008
At 9:54 pm

Excellent post! I love the line about looking downward instead of upward.

On February 6, 2008
At 1:37 am

your wife is right.

did you know that if you make $22,000/year USD, you’re in the top 1% of the world’s population.

On February 6, 2008
At 1:54 am

Like Emily, I really like the line about looking down vs. looking up. Not in a “superior” way of course, but just seeing all the blessings we do have.

by fathersez
On February 6, 2008
At 2:06 am

@ Emily,

Thanks a lot!

@ LoD

I wonder if you read Mrs. Micah’s post on “how much do we want”. And one lady commented that she needed something like 12K for her child’s private education. This is per year and she wanted the $ for 5 years.

When I read the lady’s comments, (actually and in all honesty, I did not feel anything against her)
I did wonder that about 5 - 15 Indian families could live reasonably comfortably on that sum.

Such are the disparties of life!

@Mrs. M,

Thanks for the comment. I am now following what the Frugal Duchess mentioned in her comment to MMND’s article listed in my post.

Maintain a gratitude diary, where I write 3 things daily that I am grateful for. Sometimes I miss, but so far so good.

On February 6, 2008
At 8:33 am

I experienced the same overwhelming feelings of gratitude - and an acute and painful awareness of the disparity of wealth - when we were in China to adopt our daughter. I can’t help but think how different her life is here, now.

We are considering adopting a second child from Africa. I know witnessing the poverty there will be so difficult.

I have something I’d love your honest feedback about. I am feeling uneasy lately about “coming out of the closet” with our family’s financial situation. I don’t want anyone to ever feel painful feelings of envy or compare us to “Richie Rich”. We live a great life - but it’s pretty ordinary when compared to other middle-class Americans. I feel uncomfortable if/when anyone categorizes us by our bank account holdings, because our lifestyle doesn’t fit that “image”.

Do you think it’s best if I return to “the closet” with my financial situation?

Oh, and I keep a gratitude journal, too. It works wonders for me.

[…] Sez was Counting My Blessings Again and Again. The part about looking downward instead of upward really rang true for […]

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