This week has been full of sad, devastating, and difficult news. With the disaster of unfathomable proportions in Japan and the Libyans struggle for freedom, it's easy to feel upset or overwhelmed with emotion every time I turn on the television or glance at a newspaper. When I see the footage of Japan, I just get sick to my stomach. I feel helpless as an observer.
There are certainly ways to help or get involved; a donation to the Red Cross can aid a wounded nation. The simple act of sending out thoughts of hope and support can comfort others in the smallest (and biggest) of ways.
Though, for me, sometimes it just doesn't seem enough.
I admit I feel guilty when I see disaster or people struggling. I have so much (maybe too much?) while others have so very little. I have a roof above my head and solid ground beneath my feet. I can communicate through the telephone and internet; the news informs me of what has been and what is to come. I don't have the threat of radiation poisoning looming over me. I know where my loved ones are.
Today my biggest concern was what to make for dinner. It seems petty in comparison to the plight of others and, though it may be true, is that a fair comparison for me to make? I asked myself this question today. I don't believe it is. I could make this comparison every day of my life and there will always be someone who is struggling more than I am. There will always be someone who has less than I do. There will always be someone suffering more than I ever will. Feeling guilt for having more isn't the answer. Neither is feeling unworthy of what I do have. So what am I supposed to do?
I sincerely believe the solution can be found in appreciation. Appreciation for what you have and the good in your life. Appreciation for the troubles that do not plague you. Loss and devastation on the scale that Japan is feeling can seem like far off nightmares—too far to be recognizable; too far to be reality. Appreciation and sympathy for those who are suffering is the only way you can even begin to try to understand. You may not ever truly understand (and you won't unless you have personally experienced it), but it's a place to start. When was the last time you considered the washing machine or stove top a luxury instead of a necessity? When did you last sit quietly and truly feel grateful for the people in your life?
Do what you can to help those in need, in whichever way you are capable, but then help yourself. Acknowledge your blessings. Be grateful for everything good and bad in your life—without the contrast both are meaningless. Though today may hold peace and calm, tomorrow may bring new strife or tragedy. Appreciate your today.
This banana pudding is soft and full of banana flavor. It has a smooth texture that comforts the taste buds. The chocolate shavings make this simple pudding something special. Today I am appreciative that I can sit in the calm of my home, enjoy the sunshine of an early spring day, and eat this banana pudding in peace. That's just enough for me—I don't need anything more.
Yields 4 servings
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
2 large eggs
2 small (or 1 large) ripe bananas, pureed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Chocolate shavings (optional)
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Over medium heat, cook the mixture until it is thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Turn heat down to low and cook for an additional 2 minutes; keep stirring.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs. Pour a small amount of the milk mixture into the eggs and stir quickly to prevent the eggs from cooking. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and whisk together.
Bring the pudding to a gentle boil over medium. Once it starts boiling, cook for one minute longer. Remove from the heat and pour into a tupperware container. Stir in butter, vanilla, and banana puree.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (and up to 2 days) before serving. Garnish with chocolate shavings.