An old friend of mine who passed away several years ago told me once that "all we are and all that we have are given as a gift of love to be celebrated fully and with absolute joy. Upon our parting from this incredible adventure called life, we'll stand before the old master and he'll ask us how we enjoyed his great gift? Our thankfulness will be in the acknowledgement that we loved and truly lived every second of it"
A few years back, that old friend, Wayne Morine and I had the chance to visit the countries of Namibia and South Africa and the trip utterly changed my life. One morning, while driving through the backlands of termite hills and thorny scrub, we chanced upon two native women dressed in their finest, slinging babies and packing gathered firewood on their backs so they could cook breakfast. Others made the quarter mile walk to the local well and carried water back to the village in buckets balanced on their heads. Meat, drying in the trees was collected and cooked over open fires as black flies and dust filled the air. Later, children were whisked away to school in an old wooden cart pulled by a couple of donkeys. There were no electric ranges, refrigerators, dish washers, running water, televisions, cell phones, fresh cleaned clothes, cars or school buses. At night, we could hear the entire village singing beautiful songs in perfect harmony around the campfires. Of all the sites I saw and tried to take in, the thing that struck me most was that in their simple lives they were genuinely happy.
Two weeks later, as we traveled down the highway between Cape Town and the airport in our luxury BMW taxi to fly back home; we had the chance to see a South African township. On our right, was a beautiful country club and golf course manicured to perfection. On our left was a slum of one million souls living in abject poverty. Their homes were made of rusted tin and patched up cardboard and every hundred yards or so was one electric light on a high wooden post so they didn't have to live in the dark. I have no idea how they ate. The irony of being at the very center of such diversity struck me dumb.
Over the years I've tried to simplify my life and enjoy the sheer joy of being outdoors and pursuing my passion of taking pictures and sharing them with you. Like the villagers, simple experiences seem to be the most rewarding and seeing so many people struggle has made me realize just how much we have to be thankful for. I often think of the folks who say "If I just had a little more, then I'd be satisfied". In Africa I found that if you're not fulfilled with what you have you'll never be happy. We can talk all we want about our incredible blessings, but how we live them each and every day is the real measure of what we are thankful for.