By Younas Chaudhary
I have been fortunate and blessed in my life in many respects. This Thanksgiving week, allow me to recount a few things in my life that I am grateful for:
1. My father’s decision to move us from a village to a city changed our lives
It was 1962. I was a young boy living in a remote village 99-A/6.R. near Sahiwal in Pakistan. Some of my uncles did not like my father and were creating a family feud. So, on an Eid day, the Muslim religious holiday, while my father, being the eldest, led the prayers, my three uncles banded together, fought, and insulted him and questioned his authority as the patriarch of the family.
A violent fistfight began, and my grandmother sided with her youngest son. The result was that we as a family were ostracized. So, with just a little cash in hand, my father decided to leave the village and move us to Farid Town, a nearby town. This difficult situation, ironically, changed the trajectory of our lives forever, giving us way better opportunities to succeed in life.
Looking back, I am so thankful to God for the decision my father made in leaving the village. Had he not done that, I would still be stuck in Sahiwal village herding cattle and tending crops!
2. Exiting the Pakistan Military Academy
In 1971, I was selected to join the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul. However, after six months I was let go without a reason, to my bitter disappointment.
Thought it was upsetting, I am thankful to God the army got me out. Otherwise, I would still be in Pakistan right now, doing odd jobs after retiring from military service.
3. Moving to Canada with $30 in my pocket
With just $30 in my pocket and a dream, my wife and I arrived in Edmonton, Canada, 6,300 miles away from my home in November 1973. Canada welcomed us with kindness, humor, and generosity. We worked hard as new immigrants and slowly carved out a life for ourselves, while also helping our parents back home.
I am very thankful to God for all the opportunities Canada gave me and countless other immigrants from all over the world.
4. Moving to America – Scouting for oil in Kansas
In 1979, I left Edmonton and moved to Kansas, leaving a middle-class existence. I started scouting for oil in Kansas and in a few years established my own oil and gas business. Later, I moved my businesses to Houston, Texas and diversified into real estate in the U.S. and Canada.
I am so thankful to God for the risk I took in moving to the United States and entering a totally new field, oil and gas, without any prior experience! Through sheer hard work, consistency and good luck, I have built a steady and thriving business over the years. I am very thankful for all the opportunities God created for me in this blessed land.
5. Blessed with God-loving children and grandchildren- Birth of my grandson in January 2020
I am thankful to God who blessed me with God-loving healthy children and grandchildren. My newest grandson, Bear was born on January 16, 2020, and that was a great addition to our blessed family.
6. 2020: A year in 3 stages
Looking back, 2020 was a year in 3 stages for me. In stage one, I was optimistic. During the beginning of the year, we had just moved to our own new office building near downtown Houston, and I was eager to invest more funds in oil exploration and real estate.
However, stage two arrived in March 2020 when COVID-19 struck, and oil had its worst year ever, with oil prices falling to negative -$37.63 on April 20, 2020 for the first time in history. Like everyone else, we had to pivot fast, control our costs, and steer our businesses to a sense of normalcy.
We are now in the third stage and are lucky we were able to pull through the downturn.
I am very thankful to God for all the hard work of my team, who intensely focused on operational efficiency and cost controls when they were critically needed.
7. Blessings of good health
Health is wealth, and I have been extremely fortunate to have escaped the wrath of COVID-19 so far! Bushra’s Parkinson’s Disease is also on a stable trajectory. This year I strengthened my healthy eating habits and my habits of walking and other exercises.
I thank the Almighty God because I have been blessed with a good immune system!
8. Finally, a vaccine is coming!
I am so thankful to God that we are just weeks away from getting a vaccine, and I hope by this time next year we will be able to enjoy our normal lives and regular daily routines.
9. Helping people in need
Thanks to generous comments from readers of my blogs, in 2020 I was able to help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation. I am fortunate to be able to assist others with this blessing.
10. My biggest thanks to God: For all my wishes that did not happen!
When I look back upon my life events, I am grateful to God for a lot of things that I had earnestly wished for but that did not turn out the way I had hoped. I strongly believe there were divine reasons behind every major disappointment I have experienced in the past, as I invariably ended up enjoying a different blessing from God later.
In life, we will not always get what we want. When things do not work out as you wished they would, do not get angry and upset. Stay put and remain contented. There is always a reason why sometimes what you hope for does not materialize, as it is in the hands of God, who is the only one who knows what is best for you.
Therefore, try hard to be thankful to God for the simple pleasures in life, and stay optimistic! The good times have just begun for all of us once again!
I want to wish all my American readers a Happy Thanksgiving from the bottom of my heart. I know this year has been difficult for a lot of us but let me assure you that our spirit of hard work, resiliency, and consistency along with strong faith will keep us going positive and strong. From our family to yours, a wonderful, happy, and peaceful Thanksgiving to all! God bless America.
You can read more by purchasing my best-selling memoir “From Dirt Roads to Black Gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.