Beauty of Gratitude

YMM STRONG - Thousands of residents showcased the strength of Fort McMurray on Franklin Avenue during the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s 2016 Canada Day Parade on July 1. Photo by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

YMM STRONG – Thousands of residents showcased the strength of Fort McMurray on Franklin Avenue during the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s 2016 Canada Day Parade on July 1. Photo by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

On being home and attitude

By Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Contributor

Remember the television show Perfect Strangers? Remember that episode when Larry and Balki return home from a trip (I think) and Balki says: “Look at this couch, I love this couch. Look at this table, I love this table.” Or, something along those lines. That was me on June 24, when we returned home after almost two months of evacuation. It wasn’t the euphoria of the couch, or the table, it was the love for being home – just being home.
A house is not a collection of material things. It’s a haven of emotions, memories, and moments spent together.

Like thousands of Fort McMurrayites, I too lived through the fear of losing my house when the blaze hit two blocks over wiping out eight houses. To return to a standing one is a blessing I don’t underestimate. I’ve had close friends lost their homes, and still see the pain in their eyes – weeks later. Their closure won’t come any time soon. But, it’ll come… together, as a community we will be there for each other.

I’m not someone who naturally takes things for granted. I grew up with a sense of gratitude inculcated in me. I’m grateful to my parents for this gift. I celebrate little moments. I believe in sharing smiles. But, the newfound appreciation I have for Fort McMurray, for my community, and my house – is not something words can capture.
In my deep gratitude, I’ve endeavoured even more to share smiles, to lend an ear, a hand, as needed. I’ve taught my 16 and 12-year-old boys to take these life lessons, to remember them, and to be their better selves. And, to not forget ever. Don’t forget being ripped from your home by a fire; don’t forget seeing people break down, and then vow to build again. Don’t forget to be kind, and to give back.

What changes us to be better? Does it have to be a cataclysmic event like an unprecedented fire? Cancer? Death? Why does it have to take something as dramatic as these things to be human, to be kind, and to be gentler in our ways with others? If there’s one thing I’ll never understand about people, it’s unkindness. I will never understand unkind people, who have no respect for others, whose self-centredness has no boundaries. We all have our stories. Wearing them on our attitudes doesn’t gain us sympathy. Agendas to be callous, to be vindictive, and to make the choice to remain angry, thereby ruining other peoples’ day. When has all of this gotten anyone anywhere positive?

And, then when you make the choice to not change, because yes, at the end of the day it is a choice – when cancer enters and leaves your body, when a ‘Beast’ of a fire is extinguished, what are you left with? You are left with people you’ve lost. People who could’ve been amazing friends. People who could’ve been loved ones forever. And, that’s a loss, no insurance company can compensate.

Being kinder and happier is easier. Smile. Live. Give Back with Gratitude. Because we are #YMMStrong.

– Connect Weekly –