Greetings to all,

It seems like all we hear about these days is how bad things are. Don’t worry, I won’t depress you further by going down the list of negative events that have transpired recently. Instead I want to give you some hope that things can look differently if we just change our perspective.

While pondering “perspective”, I was reminded of my ancestors. My father’s family came from Hiroshima, Japan, but due to the atomic blast there in 1945 most of our family records were destroyed. Based on oral history, I do know that my great grandparents were farmers. Family lore suggests prior to that, my ancestors were Samurai who were forced to flee Emperor Tokugawa during the 1800’s. While I think this is pretty cool, when I told this story to my son a few years ago he said, “great, our ancestors were cowards who ran away from the Emperor.” Perspective.

On my mother’s side my lineage goes back to France, Scotland and Ireland and it is my Scottish ancestors that I want to tell you about. I am a McLeod from the Isle of Sky. During the 1600s, it appears that one of my McLeod ancestors was somehow left on the Isle of Eigg after a raid there. Legend suggest that perhaps he was drunk and either fell overboard or was just left behind. I can only imagine what my son would say about that!

This stranded Scotsman befriended a local woman and established himself in the local community. For 200 years my Scottish ancestors lived on Eigg, a small island off the coast of Scotland. During the 200 years that they were on Eigg, they lived a simple life. They were poor and thus unable to travel beyond the confines of the island. Most of them lived as either farmers or crofters. They were born there, lived there, and died there.

Isle of Eigg

Isle of Eigg

They had no luxuries as we know them today. They were even poor by the standards of their own times. They lived in what appear to be huts to us.

Crofter's house

Crofter's house

During the mid 1800’s Eigg was sold to a new landowner and he could not afford to keep many of the islanders there. The islanders had to “earn” their keep by paying the landowner taxes, but due to the bad economy, they were unable to pay him. This part of my ancestors’ tale is a bit cloudy, but apparently the landowner decided to ship all those who couldn’t pay off the island. This included my ancestors. Sometime during the 1850s or early 1860s, my Scottish ancestors were forced onto a boat and sent off to Ontario Canada.

Perspective – Many of our ancestors had a very tough life. For 200 years, all my ancestors did was live life on a little island off the coast of Scotland. They had no television, no phones, no Ipods. They had no bank accounts, no IRA’s or 401ks. They had no supermarkets, vacations or holidays. They had no modern hospitals, vaccinations or antibiotics. Many families suffered through the early death of children to disease or poverty. They had no modern house, no air conditioning or heating. They had no bowling alleys, coffee houses, amusement parks. They had no cars. They had no internet, no bookstores or libraries. They did have hard work, uncertainty and poverty. They lived at the mercy of the landowners. They had no choice in occupation. They had no possibility of education in a modern school system. They had no….. dreams. Or did they?

Can you imagine living a life like that? Yet…. my ancestors lived. They loved. They married. They had children. They had dreams of perhaps leaving that little island. They got up in the morning and did the work they could. They helped each other through both good and bad times. They ate and drank what they had. They lived. Some of them very happily.

We could view their being kicked off the island of Eigg in two ways. One is that they left the only home they knew for 200 years. The other is that they were blessed by being given a new opportunity in a new land. And thank God for that. Because I wouldn’t be here today if they had stayed.

So, what about you? Do you live a house or apartment? Are you warm and cozy at night? Do you have more than one pair of shoes? How about clothes? Even if you bought them at the salvation army, you probably look marvelous! Do you have a television? Do you have cable? Even if you don’t have cable, you still get some channels. Do you have access to antibiotics, a doctor, a nurse? Do your kids have a school to go to? Can you go to the library to borrow books? Do you have Social Security? Do you have a car? Even one that “just runs” is better than none at all. If you don’t have a car, do you have access to public transportation? Can you walk?! Do you have a cell phone or access to the internet? Is there a bakery nearby where you can get a donut and a cup of coffee? Do you have access to a market or supermaket? Can you go outside knowing that there is some law and order out there? Have you traveled further than 50 miles from your home? Can you move freely to another state? Do you have a voice in your government? Can you marry who you want?

You get the idea. Perspective. YOU are one lucky person to be alive TODAY. The entire world is becoming a land of opportunity. Our ancestors didn’t live through hard times, just to see us cave in because we lost a job or money in the stock market or the housing crash. Life is GOOD! Perspective.

So – put a smile on your face, take a deep breath of fresh air, and go out and celebrate your life.

All the best!
All the time!
JT