How about a healthy little perspective check?
You know how some images leave an indelible mark and have the power to haunt you forever? I was still in high-school when I was first introduced to this photograph – and it’s been etched into my memory ever since. A bunch of us were studying in the school library when my best friend (of 26 years now) rushed over with a book that she had just discovered and enthusiastically pointed to this portrait. Captured by Gerald Waller, it featured in Life magazine and shows an overjoyed 6-year old orphan from Austria clutching a brand new pair of shoes given to him by the Red Cross.
Would you look at that precious face? All lit up with pure, unadulterated joy and gratitude! No matter how many times I look at it, it still leaves a pit in my stomach – because it’s at once uplifting and heart-breaking! It speaks volumes about this boy’s circumstances that a simple, single pair of shoes should elicit such a rapturous reaction. The image becomes all the more poignant and powerful when you look at the state of his old shoes.
So when I listen to people obsessing over acquiring this season’s “must-have” accessory or grasping for something they already have enough of – as if it were oxygen – I think of this little fellow and his shoes, that he would have no doubt worn till they resembled his old tattered pair…
For those of us fortunate enough to know where our next meal is coming from this isn’t just a photograph – it’s a valuable lesson and a humbling reminder to take the time to count one’s blessings and appreciate the power and value of those simple things in life that it’s all too easy to take for granted sometimes.