Don't Look Down
My wife and I walk together for exercise. She stops for roses and a well kept yard; she's looking around at the world.

Me, I look down.

There's a slight untruth to all of the above. Well, it is more a lack of completeness. We don't always walk together and I'm not always looking down. The other day, I mentioned the horse trail that we walk by every time we head that direction, and she said, "What horse trail?" I clearly wasn't looking down when I saw it.

Most would argue that her way of looking is better. People get the impression I'm down or depressed when I walk. But a recent trip to the Grand Canyon made me realize that there are good things about my way of looking.

We hiked a little way down into the Canyon. Only a very little way, it was too long, hot and steep a hike to go even half way. She was looking around at the magnificent view; I was watching her.

There's a very steep drop off to those Grand Canyon trails; about a mile straight down. She wasn't watching where she put her feet and my heart would race every time she stepped on a rock and wobbled slightly, so I kept closer to her and stayed between her and the trail edge. This put me closer to the edge myself, an uncomfortable position because I have mild acrophobia and wanted to hug the canyon wall, but in that situation, I realized my way of looking was probably superior.

I grew up looking up at a mountain. There were houses on that mountain, bigger, fancier, more expensive than mine. I grew up envious of the people in those houses. The people on TV always seem to have fancier cars, bigger houses and better computers than me. Looking up makes me jealous, makes me feel less than all those people.

Looking down?

The poorest five per cent of Americans earn on average the same as the richest five per cent of Indians.

Even the very poorest Americans - those at the 2nd percentile of income in the United States - are at the 62nd percentile globally.

Looking down, I - and you, if you live in the United States - are very rich. When I point this out to people, their responses range from disputing the facts to justifying the difference. For instance, I've heard it argued that the cost of living is cheaper in other countries. The second statistic above adjusts for that. You can choose to believe that you somehow deserve those riches. Other than pointing out your luck in being born in the United States, I'm not going to dispute you. I do want to point out some gravel underfoot before I make my final point.

United States TV goes around the world. "I Love Lucy" in Africa, "The Bachelor" in Malaysia and CNN in Azerbaijan. If I feel jealous, living as I do in comparative wealth, how about the rest of the world? Is it any surprise that many of them want to topple us from our perch?

I could go on, but my purpose here is more personal. When I look down, I get perspective, I get grounded and I don't feel so bad about where I am. No I don't have a private jet or a mansion like Hollywood Movie stars, but I do have a roof over my head, a car to drive and I know where my next meal is coming from.

When I look down, I stop being jealous and start feeling generous. I like that me better.