I was watching Anthony Bordain's No Reservations the other day and was facinated as he toured Cambodia. Peering into another world that has undergone such great calamity (Japan comes to mind in this moment as well) I thought about the many luxuries I have that I often forget are luxuries. So here is a list of things we (people on average in a country like America) take for granted...
1. Bottled Water: There are countless people groups whose regular drinking and bathing water are dirty and contaminated. I can go to Wal-Mart and by a pack of purified drinking water for a couple bucks and I can buy it whenever I want-- it is rarely out of stock.
2. A Ream of Paper: When the books of the Bible were written it was a major undertaking to acquire and preserve something to write it on. When the printing press came along hundreds of years later it was extremely expensive to print on paper. You can go buy a whole ream of paper for a few dollars and fill them with all your ideas and creativity. You can throw all that away and buy another ream.
3. Mental Photographs: God gave us two incredibly intricate eyes to take in the beauty and wonder of His creation and to absorb the experiences of life. Most people don't look at beautiful things or take in special occasions with their eyes anymore. They view life through a cell phone camera. They reduce the experience to a small digital screen so they can "keep it" (we like making things ours) and not view it later. Seriously, how many of you go back and study those pics and vids from your cell phone? At best you post it on Facebook for others to ooh and ahh but nothing replaces just being in the moment and absorbing the experience.
4. Loose Change: It is easy to toss or disregard- especially pennies. We don't like keeping up with it. Bills are getting inconvenient too so we such use plastic. Those coins add up though. In the first year of our marriage my wife and I had a loose change jar and a year or so later used what added up to around $300 for vacation money.
5. 43 peaceful transitions of Presidential power: In the USA we've had presidents assasinated and shamefully leave office but the Republicans and Democrats have never rolled tanks into DC to take power. There's never been the kind of rioting we've recently seen in Egypt and never has our government completely changed from the Democratic Republic the Founding Fathers established. That is pretty amazing and historically unheard of.
6. Meat: I went to a local steak house the other day and ordered a 10 oz ribeye with fries, salad, and unlimited rolls for less than $15. My mind cannot fathom how many cows our nation goes through in a day considering all the meat sold and consumed in our country. I'm not complaining- I'm a meat-lover! Still, that is a luxury of luxuries compared with other countries.
7. Writing Things Down: This is more of something we don't do anymore but should. We send emails, we tweat, we blog, and we text. We don't write much anymore but there is something about writing down an idea or journaling an experience and keeping it bound or in a notebook for future reflection that cannot be captured in the type and post age. Have you ever gone back and read what was posted on your Facebook a year ago. Sometimes I need more than 140 characters to flesh out my thoughts.
8. The Here and Now: We can spend a lot time planning for and pining after the future and the things we want to do. Stop and enjoy where God has put you now. Those people around you are just passers-by. There will be a time when even your dearest friends and family are not around (whether by change in geography or by death). Yet we whisk through life chasing after the next big thing. Don't be in such a hurry. Relish the here and now.