Reflections and Perspective

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.

45 thoughts on “Reflections and Perspective

  1. Pingback: 155 – Perspective – Beach Walk Reflections: Thoughts from thinking while walking

  2. Yes I agree, I find people are less tolerant today, people have become wimps, they moan about everything. I admit I also moan about the traffic on the motorway, the weather and that I am having a shit day, however I have told myself to shut up many times due to the thought about how lucky I am to be alive and being able to suffer the inconveniences when there are heaps of people I know who are dead.

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    • We are all humans, and it’s one of our shortcomings that we fixate on the minor trials and tribulations of our day … until something major happens to remind us just how trivial the spilled sauce or traffic on the motorway were. As long as we periodically stop ourselves, remind ourselves of our own good fortune, and that there are millions in the world who are far less fortunate, at least we know we still have a conscience, still have empathy and compassion. None of us are, nor ever will be perfect.

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  3. Right on, Jill. I try to remind myself on a regular basis of my childhood in Communist Poland, when I would have been THRILLED to have just a quarter or a slice of all the stuff I have now. Sadly, it’s been many decades since, so my monkey brain has gotten used to being in an environment where it can pretty much have all of its needs met instantly…so it complains when it doesn’t. Such is life!

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    • Sadly, it is human nature that our memories, especially of less happy times, fades quickly. In some ways, it’s a good thing, that we can pick up and move on, but in other ways, it would be better if we learned from our past. At least you and I understand that we are privileged in ways that so many are not. There are people who seem to think that they are ‘entitled’ to their privileges and they don’t even bother to look around at those less fortunate.

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  4. I had a really good friend in AA years ago … he died last year … who said that your problems, your pain is always worse than anyone else’s. To say that your issues aren’t as bad as anyone else’s is to negate your own self.

    As far as people in Florida are concerned, they chose to live there. They all know the odds of a devastating hurricane & most of them have lived through more than one before Ian. Most people I know who live down there are from up north & the ONLY reason they moved down there was because they hated winter, they hated shoveling snow, they hated the cold. For a mere three months of inconvenience, they chose to move to a state where their investment could be wiped out COMPLETELY within 24-48 hours because of predictable weather. I don’t feel sorry for them at all. They chose to move there. They knew what odds & played their hand & THEY LOST. That’s the way it is. Some of us saw those odds & said, no, I’m not doing that. I’m staying here in Buffalo where my investment is secure. A blizzard is a pain but it isn’t going to destroy my house. (Actually, I like blizzards, they’re beautiful & exciting).

    Another reason people move to Florida, in fact to all the Southern States, is because they don’t have the taxes that the Northern States have. & I’ve been to the Southern States. That lack of tax revenue REALLY SHOWS. You get what you pay for.

    So what’s going to happen next? We are all are going to have to pay for these people in Florida. Rebuilding these places that will certainly be wiped out again. OUR TAX DOLLARS. Yeah, that’s what a loving community does, but on the other hand, every single GOP politician, including the Florida governor, voted down hurricane relief for Hurricane Sandy when it devastated New York & New Jersey. But we’re going to be bailing out Florida. I’m sorry, part me says they can go F themselves. That’s the New Yorker in me.

    I know what I’m saying here is not a popular view & I hope I don’t offend anyone. But it’s how I think & I don’t feel that I should have to keep quiet so I can be part of the In Crowd.

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    • Polly … I am so appalled by your insensitivity that I cannot, will not respond fully other than to say I’m sorry for whatever happened in your past that robbed you of your humanity.


  5. We like commenting on and joking about the lives of the ridiculously rich because it makes us feel humble in comparison! I think we have all had those fridge incidents and if disaster befalls us we will recall them as happy times! Sympathy rightly pours out for Ukrainians because they had homes and lives similar to us and lost the lives they had. Somehow we feel that is worse than for people who have never had anything, as if they expect war and disease to happen to them.

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    • I agree … and if only those ultra-wealthy knew just how ridiculous they seem to us … nah, they probably wouldn’t even care. I think most of us who have any human empathy can look at the troubles of the people in Ukraine and those in Florida who recently lost their homes and see that yes, their lives are so much like ours … their family means everything to them and they are just trying to keep them safe, warm and fed. And but for the circumstances of fate, that could have been us and could yet BE us someday. Any who can see the pictures and not feel empathy or compassion, to me has no humanity. Fortunately, most all of us do, we just forget about it sometimes, or at least I do. I get wrapped up in everyday living and forget to stop and think how very fortunate I am as compared to some.

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  6. I have noticed that if, when someone asks me how I am or how ‘things’ are, I say ‘Good’ they seem surprised. There is so much negativity or competetiveness in the media (of all kinds including social media) that being positive or optimistic or grateful seems wierd. My life isn’t perfect and there are things which irritate me but basically I am fine and have everything I need – What’s not to like about that?

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    • I think you’re like me … I always respond with “good” even when it isn’t. I just don’t like to complain and figure that nobody really wants to hear me complain, either! 😉 I am trying, though, to stop worrying over the small things that, in the grand scheme, really don’t matter. You’re right … what’s not to like about that!

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  7. Pingback: Reflections and Perspective — Filosofa’s Word | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

    • Thank you, Carolyn. Every now and then I just have to look at my own shortcomings and try to do better, y’know? Ha ha … yes, I actually thought about that conversation as I wrote this!


  8. I appreciate this post, Jill. Sometimes I think we need to be reminded of how fortunate most of us are.

    What really frosts me, however, are those who have NO sympathy for the less fortunate. They see them as sub-human and make all sorts of comments about how –if they really tried– they could get out of their situations. I suppose, for some, the old adage continues to ring true … don’t judge someone until you have walked (a mile) in their shoes.

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    • Thank you, Nan.

      I agree with you … there are people who I call ‘me-ists’, who seem incapable of empathy or compassion. They deny that they live lives of privilege, and blame victims for their situation. I know a few like that and it galls me to no end. My wish for them is always that someday they find themselves struggling to find food to eat, find themselves without all the niceties they take for granted. Yes, that saying is and has always been very true. Sigh. Seems to me that humans will never learn.

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