I Guess that Depends on Where You are Sitting

Trip Start Nov 09, 2012
Trip End Nov 25, 2012

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Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Thursday, November 22, 2012

Luckiest People in the World

I came in late to the lecture on Egypt. I had dropped Eden off at the kids club and walked into a dark semi full theater. The speaker spoke with a heavy Egyptian accent. A giant screen lit the theater with a slide of the orange pyramids against a blue sky. I could see the slide reflected in peoples glasses as I scanned the room looking for Mary. "Did you know you are the luckiest people in the world?" We all clapped grateful for his assessment. "Do you know how many billions of people (and I say billions not millions) want to be in your seat?" Everybody clapped again, But I suddenly felt guilty.
I was (by that time having given up on my search for Mary) in a pretty great seat. It was made of soft red velvet. I sunk into the seat not too much or too little. I had forgone desert to make it to the lecture but I was well fed and then some. The room was filled with hard wood and gold finishes. It was and neither warm nor cold but so perfectly controlled that you would never think about it unless jerked to do so. We were traveling thousands of miles just because we wanted to. The speaker was right. Billions of people want seats like this. There is nothing I have done or not done that justifies me having this seat...I just do.
The least I can do is be mindful of this great cosmic blessing. But most of the time I'm not. I have moments like the one in the theater and, for a while, I can at least appreciate how small my problems are and how big my blessing are.
We will be traveling over thanksgiving--we often are. Tickets are cheep and the kids and I have a few vacation days so we usually head out. It is purely accidental but it has become part of what I expect for vacations. I become more grateful. I think this is due to the serendipitous nature of travel. You learn to not take credit for a bus getting you somewhere. You learn it isn't your fault if the bus doesn't get you there. You learn to accept the natural grace that is in your life. This leads to gratitude. The decisions I made or didn't make that landed me in that chair are minuscule in potency compared with the large forces that have shaped my life.

The further out I zoom from me in my seat the more I see how little I have to be proud of. At birth I was plopped on a ship. I got lucky and my ship is pretty nice. I can decide if I want to go to the buffet or dine at the sit down restaurants. The choices I make matter. Learning how to negotiate the choices I have infront of me is the purpose of my life. But travel shows me the boat I was put on. And I have to pause and feel grateful.

Someday, after I'm dead I'm going to see something bigger. The answer to the boats will be big and shinny and I'll stand at the railing and peek over at the big truth that makes this all work. "Wow" I'll say to no one in particular. "I'll say..." someone from Bangladesh will respond. After a pause she'll continue, "That really was a good seat." "Yeah, it was"
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Sandy Alvarez on

Emily, thanks so much for sharing all your wonderful experiences. It gives me the desire to visit the middle east and yet at the same time am thankful to be here in the good ole USA. I have really enjoyed reading your posts and seeing pictures. Hopefully you will have a power point presentation when you come home to share with your culdesac buddies. :)

Beth on

Dear Emily. Thanks for helping me think about blessings and grace and being mindful of both.

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