We all have rough days, some more than others. I have days where it seems the world and all of its forces are working against me. Days where I feel like I simply should have stayed in bed. Luckily, these days don’t roll around too often but when they do, I force myself to reflect on the good things in my life. The people who love me and the good fortune I am blessed with.
Last year I was walking back from the beach on a hot afternoon when I came across a pile of junk that someone had left on the curb for the council cleanup. Usually, the thought of sorting through a pile of trash in search of another man’s treasure does not appeal to me but on this occasion I was stopped in my tracks. Staring back at me was a photograph of a little old Vietnamese lady wearing what is possibly the most genuine smile I had ever seen.
While the pure aesthetics of the photo are what initially grabbed my attention, it is the thought of the things this lady must have seen and experienced over the past 70 years that captured my heart. The atrocities of the Vietnam war and the events that followed are more than likely elements of this woman’s life that I cannot even begin to fathom or have the slightest chance of understanding.
Upon discovering this photo, I felt something akin to embarrassment at the thought that I at times complain about a rough day in the office or allow myself to feel such disappointment because the surf conditions are less than ideal. This photograph captures a moment in time where this lady is expressing true happiness, despite all of the events that she and her country have endured in recent history.
For all I know, this photograph may quite possibly be staged using nothing but an actor and a cleverly designed backdrop but the romantic side of me likes to think that she was sitting on a corner in Saigon talking amongst friends when this photo was captured.
Every morning I wake up, I look at the wall to where this photograph now hangs and remind myself of all the positive things in my life and the fact that I have all of the basic elements required for my survival. I have my family, I have my health, I have food in my belly and a roof over my head. At the end of the day, nothing else in this world matters.