Bobby Sager’s Note from Untouched Octaves:
I’ve spent most of the last 15 years living in war zones, refugee camps and traumatized communities around the world while doing the work of my family’s foundation. I’ve worked as a white person in Rwanda, an American in Afghanistan and a Jew in Palestine. It’s a life of kicking ass, holding people accountable and getting things done, making a difference in the lives of other people, ESPECIALLY in these difficult places, is too important not to get it right. Great intentions are nothing without great execution.
It’s amazing how much we take for granted. In most of the world when you turn on the light switch the light doesn’t go on. If you turn on the faucet the water doesn’t come out or if it does you certainly can’t drink it. Millions of fellow humans live in communities where the very air they breathe is poison. We live in a culture of entitlement, distraction, and multitasking. We spend too much time fretting about what will happen or regretting what has happened, and we lose the power and the magic of the moment we are actually in. We need to find ways to turn down the noise so that we can hear ourselves think.
Three years ago I came within a minute or so of being burned to death. I sat in our just completed home, looked around and announced that after 6 years of building and changing the house was finally done, but just 6 hours later it burned to the ground with me trapped on the second floor. I couldn’t possibly know when I put my head on the pillow that night that in a few short hours I would be fighting for my life. Man Plans and God Laughs. Everyone knows they are going to die someday but we generally think that tomorrow is pretty much guaranteed. But when you start to reflect on the fact that tomorrow may never come, how does that inform how we live all of our todays?
I have been working on a new book about thankfulness. In it, I talk about the magic of what I call “Tuesday Afternoon” which is meant to represent the everyday, the so called “ordinary”. Many people wake up on Monday and wish it were Friday, and as a result they wish away 70% of their lives. But life happens between the big days like New Years Eve and your birthday. Those are just the icing; the cake is all the ordinary days in between. The everyday can become common without a tuned in spirit. Everyday relationships and friendships can feel routine and we can de- sensitize to their wonder. Just because something happens daily certainly doesn’t make it ordinary. Our incredible lives are made up of almost entirely ordinary days.
So how do we make those days richer and more vivid? How do we find the extraordinary in the ordinary? How do we get to a place where we say “Thank God its Monday”! It is impossible to thankful without a tuned in spirit and that spirit is nourished with gratitude. The opportunity for gratitude is all around us in every moment of every day.
Gratitude is a state of mind. Gratitude can help make you a more open minded and openhearted listener, which in turn can make you a better husband, wife, son, daughter, friend and human being. Gratitude can transform not only way we work-but the very work we do. The great Sufi poet Rumi once said “Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world; today I am wise so I am changing myself”. Mindfulness is the delivery system, gratitude is the fuel and helping to make the world a little bit better is the point.
When looking at my photographs don’t feel bad for these kids. They don’t want our pity. My motivation in bringing these children together for you to meet is not so you can say “Oh, look at those poor kids. I want to give them a hug”. Hopefully you take strength from their strength, feel more thankful in your own life, and in return go find ways to give people hope, not by giving money but by giving something of yourself.