I don’t know why, but a few things of late have made me do some thinking. It started with Hurricane Ian and our friend Scottie’s post about the damage he and Ron had suffered. Roger and I were chatting in comments about how insignificant our own problems suddenly seemed as compared to what the survivors of the hurricane were going through.
Earlier that day, I had been nattering because as I was trying to get something that was at the back of the refrigerator, my arm accidentally knocked a small tub of sauce off the fridge shelf and onto the floor, where the lid separated from the container and left a nice little puddle of sweet ‘n sour sauce for me to clean up. I cursed a bit and pondered aloud why things couldn’t just go right. And then … I caught my self … I stopped dead in my tracks and said, “Oh shit … I should be thankful that I have so much in my fridge that this could happen. I should be grateful that I have a fridge and electricity to power it! What the hell am I whining about???”
We humans, it seems, are an insulated lot. Sure, we (at least most of us) feel empathy for those who are in trying circumstances, but at the end of the day, we’re more concerned with our own convenience. Last night, I popped into Facebook and saw a post by a friend bemoaning that her new living room furniture was supposed to have been delivered but there was a delay. She was “not happy”, so her hubby took her out to her favourite restaurant as a consolation. Most people commented with commiseration over her delayed furniture, or about how wonderful her hubby is (he really is a great guy), but my thoughts were … shouldn’t you just be thankful that you can afford new furniture when some people don’t even have furniture, old or new? And then, I realized that I, too, would have been grouchy and whiny had I been in her shoes. And it made me ashamed of myself.
Are we really so insular that we cannot see how petty most of our own problems are? Does it matter that the cat knocked over the flowerpot, or grease spilled onto the stove burner, when compared to women in Iran being slaughtered for protesting an archaic, misogynistic dress code, or people in Ukraine being left homeless after Russian bombs destroyed their houses, or worse yet, mourning their child who was killed when a bomb hit?
Perspective. I frequently diss on the wealthy, for they cannot see, will not see, how the rest of us live. They live a life of luxury in their ivory towers while we commoners struggle to pay our bills and put food on the table. But, in some sense, don’t we all do the same? I live in a small rented townhouse that to me is a pain, because we have lived here for 24 years and have accumulated so much ‘stuff’ that we’ve basically outgrown it, but … how many people are sharing a makeshift shelter with a dozen other people tonight, hoping it doesn’t rain and wash their shelter downriver? How many people are living in tents made of cardboard boxes under highway overpasses tonight? I had chicken with veggies and rice for supper tonight … how many people had naught more than a scant bowl of rice or a piece of bread?
‘Wealth’ is relative … and relative to so many others, you and I are wealthy. Yes, there are those who have far more than we do, but … there are more who have far less than we. I’m not trying to sound ‘preachy’ at all … this is simply my own reflection of how much I have, how lucky I am, and how often I take it all for granted. I think I need to learn a bit of humility, need to remember more often to reflect on what I have, need to put my everyday frustrations into perspective. My needs are met, my ‘wants’ are mostly met … life will always be filled with minor frustrations, but that is exactly what they are … minor frustrations.
I shall try to do better.