Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lessons from Brazil: Lesson 1: We Are So Spoiled By Comfort

As many of you know, I got back this week from a whirlwind trip to Brazil for the wedding of my beloved nephew and his wonderful wife. I was only there for a short time but it was life-changing. So I decided to start a short blog series called "Lessons from Brazil" to share about this trip, to help me to process it, and to inspire you.

We are so incredibly spoiled as Americans. We are comfortable almost all the time. From the heating and air conditioning systems we have everywhere we go, to the paper products and sanitizers and showers and bath products we have, to the large and roomy and clean living spaces we inhabit, to our great big cars with their air conditioned spaces--we are comfortable! Everything is clean. We don't stink. The air is pleasant--we expect it to be! We rarely smell bad smells or bodily odors or raw sewage, and if we do, we complain. Wherever we sit, we're comfortable--places here are designed that way. When we lie down, well we're comfortable then too, with fine bedding, soft beds sometimes with pillow top mattresses, and (mostly) no bedbugs. In fact, we expect there to be no bugs of any type wherever we are.

If we ever become uncomfortable, we act right away. We turn the air handling system up from 67 degrees to 70 degrees (or whatever temperature we prefer) or adjust the temperature on our car console. Roughing it is taking the bus because we can't control the temperature there or who comes on or where the bus stops; we'll take the bus if we have to, but we feel deprived and feel bad because we don't have a car like most people. It's so uncomfortable and inconvenient and takes so long and we feel very sorry for ourselves.

We turn the faucet on and out comes potable water, like magic. When we go to the bathroom we use as much toilet paper as we need to handle the job and then flush it all right down the toilet. Because we want to be clean and comfortable and everything is available for us to feel that way.

Most of the world does not live this way. They are not comfortable, nor do they expect to be. If they happen to be, it's a wonderful moment that they treasure. Everything is not clean. There are strong smells everywhere. When they are uncomfortable, they cannot immediately move to adjust the environment to their preferences.

I continue to marvel at the abundance around me. Today I am grateful for comfort. Instead of expecting it, I know it for the great blessing and gift that it is.


Kim Mailhot said...

Appreciation and gratitude for the abundance around us...excellent message, Miss Olivia. Have to say, I do indeed treasure my comforts.
Hope yours have you nice and cozy on this Sunday !

Olivia said...

Thank you, My Queen, as do I as well. They are more precious than ever. I wish you the very same and wish you a great time with your birthday man as well. I hope your weekend continues to be a great one, xoO

Kate said...

That is so true. I always have thought that every american should be forced to travel overseas. It changes your outlook. I think we would be a better country if that happened.

I am grateful today for the beauty around me.

Olivia said...

I think so too, My Other Queen. Isn't it great to appreciate the beauty everywhere? Peace and blessings to you, Kate! xoO

Anonymous said...

You are so right. This is very well stated. I try very hard not to take the comforts for granted, not to be spoiled. But it just happens, doesn't it? I am spoiled and I have to make an effort every day to remind myself how blessed I am that I can sink into a hot tub of water and wear clean clothes with no holes in them every single day. I have boots that keep out the wet and cold. I have enough food every single day. We are so, so blessed. Doesn't it behoove us to reach out and share some of our abundance?

Olivia said...

It does indeed just happen, Kelly. I am spoiled rotten. What a beautiful idea to remember not just to feel grateful and express appreciation and gratitude, but to also reach out and share as often as possible. Absolutely! xoO

kate i said...

I so agree Olivia. Some of my very best journey's have been in countries where I've travelled with the very basics and connected with the locals. Although it's not the same as living their life because I eventually get to come home to my luxuries, I found backpacking and staying in local homes enlightening and so very rewarding. I was able to feel a real appreciation and gratitude for my home and country and see it with new eyes.

Olivia said...

kate, you say it so well. That's it exactly. This trip will always hold a special place in my heart not just because of the wedding (although that would be enough) but because of how it changed me--for the better.

Thank you for putting this sentiment into words so effectively, xoO

groovysabrina said...

Hi Olivia, I really enjoyed your post! It is quite true, yet I never managed to write it as eloquently as you did after your short stay. I am also grateful for comforts and I have learned to live without many of the ones I used to take for granted. It amazes me how adaptable and resilient we are as humans. The wonderful thing about Brazil is that the people here are usually joyful and optimistic, regardless of their living conditions. The focus is on family and friends. The rest is just details. We should all be so lucky, right?

Olivia said...

Thank you, Sabrina!! Yes, the people here are quite joyful and optimistic, very warm and seem to value other people greatly. This is the topic of one of my future "Lessons from Brazil". I was really impressed with all of the people I met (including relative strangers who would help me out when getting water and buying food) and several people made indelible impressions, like Reynaldo and Verena, Fairnanda and Dalva, your mother, the owner of the All Saints Restaurant, your sweet and poised little flower girl, and more.

It is true that what we demand and view as essential here in a place of material abundance is actually "just details" and that when we have to do without, we can see that so much more clearly.

When we don't need to be uber-comfortable all of the time, it is amazing how much our lives can open up and how many new possibilities there are.

Thank you again for everything, Sabrina. And also for commenting here...I wondered how you felt about this and I appreciate your sharing. xoO

NANCY said...

Hi Olivia. I really enjoyed your " First Lesson from Brazil"and also appreciated Sabrina's post. I wish you could come visit my country again. It's a beautiful country. But you've got the essence in a short space of time. Enjoying good times with family, and friends... don't need anything more.

Olivia said...

Hello, Nancy, So good to see you here. Thank you for leaving a comment. I would love to see more of Brazil and am so glad I came. EXACTLY--family and friends!

Your daughter is so sweet and she was an excellent flower girl. She took her job so seriously and was beautiful! I will always remember how lovely she looked.

Thank you again, and blessings to you,