I went for a long walk today in my urban neighbourhood. I walked down to my husband’s office space and then we walked home. We’ve had an amazing year of travel which has led us to make even more travel plans and to contemplate living abroad.
For most of my life, I have lived in the area that I am living in right now – a cumulative 21 years of calling this part of the city home. This city and I have had our rough patches. I get sick of the traffic. I get tired of the impatience of drivers, cyclists AND pedestrians. I become weary of the fast pace. Every other country I have visited, outside of the U.S., I have experienced a slower and simpler pace of life (although California did have a slower paced atmosphere than Toronto).
This summer I fell in love with my home and my city again. Through my various projects of paying attention, I changed the way I saw and reacted to my surroundings. The other day, my aunts and my mother were in her pool lounging around. They talked about how grateful they were for their parents, my grandparents, for immigrating here. They imagined what their lives would have been like if they stayed in the Philippines. Being poor, there weren’t going to be many options. They would have had some sort of market stand trying to make ends meet. But here they were in my mom’s pool – a bank branch manager, a retired banking administrator, an accounting executive, and a pharmaceutical distributor.
Everything since 1973, the year my grandparents came to Canada, has been gravy.
As I walked today, I felt grateful for the choice my grandparents have made. I walked in gratitude knowing that my very existence hinged on that choice. I looked at my city as a slice of heaven. It’s a place I have always felt safe. As a minority woman, I can walk down the street without people taking a second look. Both myself and my daughters have opportunities that growing up in provincial Philippines would not have given us. This is what I remind them. This is what my daughter has learned by going to the Philippines to help in rural areas.
We can get so accustomed to our everyday surroundings, running on automatic. Is it possible to see things differently? To try to go back in time and see if there was a choice made that would have changed your present life completely?
42 days of gratitude…For more details on this project, read here.