As a nation, we had just finished rinsing our plates from a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, and with full bellies, we rushed out of our warm houses to wait in line at Walmart and fight over 72-inch flatscreen TVs and XBoxes. We barely had time to express gratitude for all that we have…FOR ALL THAT WE HAVE!…and we’re out hunting for more. MORE! What is wrong with us? What is this deep hole in our souls that we keep trying to fill with food, alcohol, drugs, and shiny new things??? This story by Scott Sabol is a great reminder. We do not need new things, we need to pause for just a moment, and see who we really are.
“Seattle is a beautiful place, but in the 1980’s I was living in a beat up beach cabin. I had an old TV, a lumpy futon and one of those white plastic princess phones. I was basically broke, but my noisy old refrigerator was stuffed with fresh vegetables, eggs, fruit, beer and frozen pizza – and I had a spectacular view of Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains and the Seattle skyline.
That year, I volunteered to host a college exchange student from Guinea Bissau, Africa. When I picked him up at the airport, Salvatore was easy to spot. He was 23, tall and regal looking, with a huge smile and lustrous blue-black skin. He had lived his entire life as a barefoot fisherman in a small native village located on a big river deep in the jungle of Guinea Bissau- and now his village had raised the money to send him to study U.S. Fisheries on their behalf. He had traveled directly from his African village to Seattle, and I could see he was astonished at what he saw as we drove through the beautiful city.
When we arrived at my raggedy cabin, I worried that Salvatore might be disappointed with his new accommodations. He seemed somber as I showed him the little bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, TV and telephone. What was Salvatore thinking? I decided to take him out on the little deck to try to impress him with the view. The snow clad mountains were spread out against the sky that day, and one of Seattle’s majestic white ferries was gliding across the sparkling waters of Puget Sound. We stood there silently for a while, and then Salvatore turned to me with his brow deeply knit in thought.
‘You are a king?’ he asked. ‘No,’ I laughed, ‘I’m just an everyday person like you.’ Salvatore was silent for a moment, and then he turned again and said quite clear and emphatically, ‘You are a king.’ And it suddenly dawned on me that he was right. All these years I had been a king and not known it.”
~Scott Sabol, PhD
After reading this, my perspective changed dramatically. I looked around my small house, my dependable car, the food in my fridge, and all that I am surrounded with. I asked myself these three questions. My answers made me commit to a different kind of holiday season. Maybe you will have a similar response. I’d love to hear your comments.
1) Who am I?
2) Why am I here?
3) What am I doing for others?