I have a photograph on my refrigerator, stuck with a magnet at eye level, so that every time I open the fridge I come face to face with it. It is not of anyone I know, nor is it anyone that I’m ever likely to meet. The picture shows three stills from a documentary about food, showing three families with the total amount of food they eat in a week spread before them. Perhaps you’ve seen these pictures, or even the film itself. I hadn’t and I was so astonished by them that I put them where I will see them many times a day. I put them there to remind myself just what I have, and to bring awareness of what I waste and consume each day.
To Have and Have Not
In one photo, a family of seven stands behind a weekly selection of food that would feed my family of four in one day. Heck, my husband and I have probably eaten that much in one meal when out to eat. We buy simple food, most of it from local farmer’s markets, nothing too packaged or pre-made.
We eat leftovers; we make omelets and stir-fries and soups with whatever we have on hand. My husband has come home from work many times, probably hoping for a nice, juicy steak, only to find that I’ve made some sort of veggie casserole to use up what was in the fridge (sorry honey!). We love food and love to eat well, although we try not to waste or consume a lot of junk.
When I found that picture though, I realized just how much I take for granted, and how much more conscious I can be, not only of what I consume, but of all the other day to day luxuries that most us consider necessities.
Learn To Appreciate What You Have
It is so easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what you don’t have. We live in a world dominated by social media, constantly flashing more, more, more at us. Even if you don’t want what’s being sold, it can sometimes feel unfair and frustrating to know that you could not easily have it even if you wanted it. That makes it all the more important to remember what we do have, and I don’t mean material things. I mean things that most of us take for granted so often that we hardly ever remember that not everyone is lucky enough to have them. Learn to appreciate what you have.
Turning on the tap at the sink, for instance, to fill a pot or a water pitcher. We didn’t have to walk miles for that water, carrying it home on our backs or heads. Most of us have never dug or built a well that our livelihood depended on. In fact, the closest most of us come to working for fresh, clean water is paying our water bill. The simple act of standing before that sink on our feet, seeing the faucet, gripping a knob to turn it on – how lucky to have a body healthy enough to respond correctly, to perform an action without conscious thought.
Grumbling at a friend or a spouse, or nagging your kids? How amazing, truly amazing, to have loved ones so close that you get on one another’s nerves sometimes. What would life be like if those day to day interactions were lost?
Seeing this computer screen, hearing the sound of birds and bugs outside the window. Tasting your favorite food. Access to your favorite food. The simplest things in life are often the best, but they are also what most of us take for granted on daily basis. Let’s try to remember and be thankful for every gift we have, however small and simple, because sometimes the simplest things are really the biggest and most vital.
Now when I open my fridge, I am reminded to think about what I am putting in my body, to be mindful of what I am consuming, and grateful for it as well. And that makes me savor and appreciate it even more.