I Will Now Cease Any and All Complaining

It was a 30 minute ride to and from the office during my two week stay in India, and since I wasn’t driving I had a lot of time to look at the scenery. I was surprised to see empty lots in the middle of a metropolitan area of millions of people. The driver told me that owners don’t want to leave their property empty for very long, or they’d end up with squatters which are almost impossible to get rid off. He pointed at just such an empty lot, which was dotted with small tin shacks covered with blue tarps. As we passed by I saw a man and presumably his young child sitting outside one of these shacks. That structure, not much larger than a camping tent, was their home.

During our stay, our driver recommended several restaurants to us saying other Americans had enjoyed the food, but he was never able to tell us what he thought of the businesses because they were too expensive for him to eat at. The local food courts I went to for lunch with my coworkers offered lunch for as low as 60 cents. That cost is put in to perspective when you take into account that the average individual yearly income in India is the equivalent of $4200.

I started to reflect upon my own financial problems.

In July of 2009 I enrolled in a debt management program because we had reached a point where we could no longer meet all of our financial commitments. It was an extremely scary time for myself and my family. Over the last 3 years we have worked tirelessly to cut unnecessary expenses out of our lives and to increase income to live within our means and make our day to day struggle easier. We did this, however, while living in a house that doesn’t require a tarp to be hung over it, two cars in the garage, clothes in our closets, and food in our cupboards. My wife and I talk about what temp to set our AC at in summer to save money, and we talk about how much (not if) we can spend on Christmas presents for our children. My largest recent medical bill was the cavity filling I had done last week.

The man outside the shack in India would likely trade for my problems at the drop of a hat.

I may have had financial challenges, but they’ve all been due to my own mistakes. I’ve had every opportunity to thrive and be successful. The truth is, even in my darkest hour, my financial situation has never been anywhere near poverty. I’ve always had options. I may have not liked those options, but there has never really been any danger of not being able to put a roof over my family’s head, clothes on their backs, and food on the table.

There are certainly people in the United States with those worries on their mind, but in my corner of the world it doesn’t slap me in the face on a daily basis as it did during my two week stay in India. It has really affected me, and caused me to think twice any time I start to resent not being able to buy or do something.

Because when you really think about it, not having the funds to put the next round of fertilizer on my lawn really isn’t that big of a deal.

May another complaint never be formed on these lips.


About Travis

15 Responses to “I Will Now Cease Any and All Complaining”

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  1. I grew up in Africa and I can say a hearty Amen to everything you said. Spending time in South America, Asia or Africa does wonders for one’s perspective. When we realize our 1990 Corolla would be a mayor’s limousine in 80% of the world. Where beans and rice for every meal (I mean ACTUALLY HAVING beans and rice with which to have a meal) is cause for major gratitude.

    Good post!

    • Travis says:

      It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that so many people in our country are obese, yet so many (even in our own country) go hungry on a daily basis. I saw a graphic over the weekend (have no idea how accurate it was) that stated the amount of money Americans spend on diet products and programs in one year is roughly equivalent to the amount of money it would take to solve world hunger for a year. That’s amazing. I’ve been habitual for a long time about raising a prayer of thanks each and every day, but it gets a new heartfelt meaning from now on.

  2. You are right. I’ve been to India a couple times for weeks at a time. I spent time with the locals and ate with the locals and it was very cheap. They treated me like I was a KING and it was then that I realized we have nothing to complain about. You are right they would dive at the opportunity to have our problems but nothing is worse than some of the conditions these people have to live in. Sometimes we need a kick in the arse just to remind us that life isn’t as bad as it could be and yes, we make the decisions we make. Life could be so much worse for us all… let’s all be grateful for what we have as someone else would walk in our shoes in a heartbeat. Cheers and great post. Mr.CBB

    • Travis says:

      I agree, Mr. CBB, we do all need that kick in the arse every now and then. One seldom does it too…..it has to happen every so often – and it came just when I needed one. I got done with a run yesterday and just stood in my driveway and looked at the fall colors. I tried to count all the blessings that I could be thankful for just to stand there and do that – legs to stand, eyes to see, life of trees, the magic of the leaves turning color, etc, etc. I couldn’t count them all.

      Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.

  3. Slackerjo says:

    I am big fan of historical fiction because it reminds me that 100-200 years ago life was tough and sadly human life was cheap. And we are adults. Imagine what it was like for kids to scrounge daily for food and find shelter?

    Glad to hear that you gained some insight about what poverty is like outside of the US.

    • Travis says:

      I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have to go hunting for food every day. Technology and innovation have certainly brought us many comforts in life!

  4. Sometimes, people need to see what is there in the other side of their world for them to start appreciating what they already have and start changing their perspectives in life. Saddening but that is the reality of life.

    • Travis says:

      Sad but true, Cherleen. Sometimes it takes being put in a completely different environment to really understand what it is we already have. I hope I can keep this perspective. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Monica says:

    What a great post! It sure makes it seem like the struggles I have had are nothing compared to what many others in the world face. Sometimes it is good for us to get a reality check, as it helps us put our minor struggles into perspective. Thanks for sharing!

    • Travis says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Monica! We also need to keep in mind while poverty was very visible where I was in India, there are certainly places and people in our very own country that experience the same level of hardship!

  6. JennyR says:

    Incredible post to allow us all to reflect on just how blessed we all are…wonderfully well-written!

    • Travis says:

      JennyR, remembering to be thankful has always been something I make a priority in my household. Every night as I tuck my kids into bed I ask them to tell me at least one thing they are thankful for that day, but this has kicked that up another notch. Being in a constant state of being thankful puts a smile on a person’s face. Walking through life fully aware of the gifts that we have been given just makes life all that more enjoyable. Thanks for reading and commenting – it always makes my day to hear from you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Veronica @ Pelican on Money says:

    Travis, nice post. Makes you appreciate what you have in your life doesn’t it? I feel really sorry for people who haven’t seen what true poverty is, by not having a chance to travel to areas of the world. It’s sad that so much of the world is so poor that some people don’t have drinking water while here we have people debating whether the new iphone is worth purchasing to replace the old one. I’m not saying there is much we can do (on an individual basis) to improve this situation (maybe there is?) but just having appreciation for what you have makes a happy camper.

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