Not taking anything for granted

Many events recently, or this past year, have made me realize that I need to appreciate the people and the relatively good luck I have had in my life and that I should not take my family or friends for granted.

Recently, there was a typhoon affecting various parts of Asia and a shooting at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. There have also been many other events in America that have helped lay the groundwork for my resolution to act differently. The Boston Marathon Bombing, the Sandy Hook school shooting, and 9/11, etc, are just some of the events that came to mind while thinking about tragedies.

I think it’s terrible that it takes something awful for people to come together and realize that we should always be there for everyone and be helpful. Our world could be an amazing one if we could all be kind and compassionate toward each other, even in non-tragic times.

The typhoon Usagi, which means “Rabbit” in Japanese, affected various areas of Asia. The results of the typhoon were a death toll, damage to houses, and canceled flights at the Hong Kong International Airport,. When the typhoon was going on, I was afraid for Freya, my sister, since she is currently in Shenzhen, China, working for a company that helps Chinese students prepare for admission to top-notch American universities. I regretted all the times that I fought with her, and I told myself that I shouldn’t fight with anybody ever again because I don’t know when they might be taken away from me. I decided that nothing should ever be taken for granted.

The typhoon also made me think of some mean things I used to do. For example, when Freya used to come home from school, I would always say that I wished she were away; but when she was away from home, I would always say that I missed her. The truth is that I love my sister very much and I should not try to annoy her when we are together.

The typhoon came at an awful time because the Chinese people had just celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival on September 19 with their families and friends. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of my favorite times of the year. We eat moon cakes, look at the full moon, and eat other circular foods.

The idea is that on that day, family members would be looking at the same full moon no matter where they are and so they would be together in spirit. I wonder how many people lost their loved ones in the typhoon. I’m thankful that Freya is all right.

When I heard about the shooting at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, I immediately thought of my sister again because Freya went to that mall with her classmates and teacher when they visited Kenya about two years ago. Freya went to Kenya as a part of a University of Michigan class. She was chosen from many applicants. She could have been a victim of the shooting.

In any natural disaster or human tragedy, many people are taken away from their loved ones. We should all remember that we shouldn’t take anyone or anything for granted. We should cherish the times we spend with everybody.

While in Japan this past summer, my mom and I learned a Japanese phrase: ichigo ichie, which could be roughly translated as one life one meeting. My mom says that it means we should be mindful of each moment as things change quickly and people come and go.

Editor’s note: GlenEllen Lehmberg, 15, is a junior at Marquette Senior High School. She is a long time member of 8-18 Media and is also involved in dance and youth theatre in her spare time. Her parents are Paul and Z.Z. Lehmberg of Marquette. 8-18 Media is a youth journalism program of the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum. Through the program, teams of kids write news stories and commentaries on issues important to youth and about any good, or bad, things youth are up to. For more information call 906-226-7874, or email at