We come across so much information on a daily basis...whether it is through listening to the radio, browsing the web, reading a book, or something else, the overload never stops. I believe that we can turn bits and pieces of all that tangled information into useful wisdom. Learning is a lifelong journey. Therefore, every Wednesday, I will be sharing some wisdom that I have acquired over the week due to my writing, reading, or other experiences. I encourage you all to comment in the comment box and share your thoughts or what wisdom you have obtained over the week as well.
For this week, I decided to present a short piece of my writing from The Corridor of Uncertainty. As many of you know, The Corridor of Uncertainty is a book about the Afghan cricket team's miraculous journey against the Taliban. It is set to release on February 1, 2016.
Below is a short excerpt from Chapter 3 (Life of a Refugee) of the text. The excerpt takes place one evening in 1991 as three of the main Afghan refugees - Taj, Karim, and Raees - head to a local matchstick factory in Peshawar, Pakistan for their daily work shifts. Taj, Karim, and Raees (future cricketing celebrities) are very young boys living in Kacha Garhi refugee camp and must work in horrendous factories for little pay to support their families. Normally, they should have been attending school. Almost all the other children from the camp were in the same situation as Taj, Karim, and Raees as well.
"Deciding it was probably best to heed the supervisor’s warning, the three boys shut their mouths and scrambled to the match plant. They just wanted to get their dreadful night shifts over with. Inside, the factory showed signs of being worse than an unsanitary prison cell. It was musty and overcrowded. No clean water reached the bathrooms either.
Safety posed still a more significant issue. Emergency exits were afterthoughts. Bare electrical machine wires threatened to zap hundreds of unprotected child workers. Illegal floor additions also made ceilings sag so far downward that many laborers could touch them by raising their hands. The building was in total danger of collapsing.
All the juvenile workers should have been off cherishing their childhood years while they lasted. Instead, they were obliged to slave away in a factory setting, where they were prone to catastrophic accidents each day. These children exerted themselves for endless hours without taking breaks. The awful industrial environment set them back with acute joint pain and respiration problems. Nevertheless, they remained grateful for the various other positive aspects of their lives.
Young Afghan laborers, in this way, established that having practically nothing can be better than possessing every luxury imaginable. The happiest people may not have much, but take time to appreciate seemingly trivial treasures. They understand what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, and to laugh. The gloomiest people, on the other hand, take everything for granted. While they may own all the frills that the world has to offer, they keep wishing for more – and as long as they continue to concentrate on what they are missing, they will never have enough. There is always something to be thankful for."
I think that this is a great lesson on appreciating trivial treasures. Often times, we are taught by society to compare ourselves to people who perform better than us or to those who achieve more than us. When it comes to happiness, we should actually do the complete opposite, and compare ourselves to people who have less luxuries than us. For example, if we always compare to our neighbor who has an expensive car and huge house, we will never be happy. However, if we start comparing to our friend who lives in a one-bedroom apartment and does not even own a car, suddenly we will feel more grateful. Ultimately, comparing against the norm to people who have less is the only way to truly appreciate everything we have and experience inner happiness.