A Story From the Archives

It’s almost Thanksgiving!

In honor of this lovely holiday–where I can gorge on mashed potatoes, those weird canned cranberries that come out in the form of a tube, and pecan pie–and spend time with various friends and family members–I’m doing a post about being grateful.

I’m going back into my past a little bit, to tell you all an inspiring tale.

“The Graveyard Man.”

It was a pre-dawn morning in Southern California. I, en route to studying abroad in Cusco, Peru, had stopped to visit my favorite cousin at her (ridiculously fancy) school in San Diego, Point Loma Nazarene University. It was a fantastic week: I sort of fell in love with her California lifestyle. Hers, at least, was like the movies, or so it seemed to me. Between classes she surfed, watched the sunset, wandered down to the waterfront where she walked barefoot eating frozen yogurt. We took Chinese food to a little island, I gave myself a nose bleed with a surfboard, I bought ridiculous sunglasses that looked like a Dalmatian.

I know, I can TOTALLY pull these off.

You must understand this was at a strange point in my life. I had recently been put on academic probation, been dumped by several boys in a row, including the boy I thought was my OTL (one true love) and had, basically on a whim, taken my savings and signed up for a Spanish school in South America. About three weeks before I was due to start.

This trip was like a respite from my real life: I didn’t know where I would go after my time in Peru, if I wanted to go back to school, if I wanted to just be a surf bum in California. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stare at the ocean constantly, watch every sunset I could, go sail away and pretend I didn’t really need an education, after all. And really, why did I need to go to Peru? Who needs to learn Spanish?

See? You wouldn't want to stop looking, either.

After a week of adventure, it was time to go back to my aunt’s house for my final round of packing and goodbyes. It was almost time for my greatest adventure yet and I did. not. want. to. go. So, in reference to my crabby, my cousin decided to grab some blankets and go to the cemetery to watch a sunrise over some bay, dragging me along. I was grumpy–as I usually am in the morning–and my suggestion of two gallons of coffee had been ignored. I sat there, wrapped in a blanket, on a wall that was turning my butt cheeks to blocks of ice, when one of the happiest people I’ve ever met entered into the picture.

He was a graveyard worker. “Why was he so happy? He works in a graveyard” was all I could think. But he bounced around, drove his little golf cart like a maniac while laughing like a hyena, sang (in Spanish) while he worked, and even took a minute to enjoy the glorious sunrise.

It was totally worth waking up for that. I think he made more of an impression on me than the sunrise did, truthfully. I, obviously, did not forget him (or the sunrise either, but you know what I mean). I did make it to Peru, and I learned further that your life can be very simple, but you can still be happy.

Just livin' simply in Peru (and the Dalmatian sunglasses lived on...until they broke).

Maybe happiness really is what you make it. But, I know that a key to it, one I still struggle with, is that being grateful goes a long way. I’ve met a lot of people since this graveyard man–many who, in what seemed to me very undesirable circumstances, also seemed to be having the best time.

I’ll stop preaching now. But I hope, if you made it this far, you’ll take one thing from all this blabbing: to be grateful. 🙂

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