Gosh, it’s been a heck of a week so far – last Thursday our van broke down on the side of the road (again) requiring a tow to the station, and of course, needing expensive repairs (again) to get back on the road, this time totalling $912.10. This sum, when added into the pot brings our total van repairs up to a whopping $2,765.34 so far this year!
But wait, there’s more; on the weekend our washing machine also broke (again) only this time it packed it in for good, which means we’ve had to replace it (and the dryer) as well. Cost for this placement? $3,257.98. Why so much? As my clever wife says, “We are too poor to buy something twice when we only need to buy it once”, hence the hefty price tag. Why does this feel like Groundhog Day to me? Oh yeah: Because of this.
Later that day when we were moving a closet door, something poked out and took a massive chunk out of my bare foot, ripping into the flesh and leaving a gash so deep it took an hour to stop bleeding – ouch! And finally, just two days after dealing with all of this, my head blew up like a balloon, which at first I thought was allergies, but turned out to be a full blown head-cold, complete with a “never-ending” itchy eye! Groan! Why does my life suck so bad right now?
But stop, and wait a minute: Before I get all upset at how “difficult” my life is, here’s a better idea – Why not just quietly remind myself that compared to a few recent global issues, that these so called “problems” are nothing more than inconveniences of a spoiled “Western Lifestyle” and maybe – just maybe – I should be grateful that these petty things are all I have to deal with… As I write this:
- In Turkey there are hundreds and hundreds of miners either trapped beneath the ground or dead from an hours-old mine collapse
- In South Korea, many, many families are mooring the loss of their loved ones, mostly teens, due to the sinking of a ferry that was well over capacity
- In Abuja, Nigeria where close to 300 girls where kidnapped and are being held prisoner by the terrorist group Boko Haram
- In Cleveland, Ohio where – one year later – 3 women who spent 11+ years secretly captive in the dungeon-style basement of Arial Castro are trying to come to terms with this atrocity and adjust to their lives of freedom
Suddenly the idea of fixing a vehicle (to make it safe), or a working washer-dryer (to have clean clothes), or getting over a bad cold (to feel better), or for a cut on a toe to heal (so it doesn’t “hurt” so much) not only seem pathetic by comparison, but I’m almost embarrassed to be complaining about them, especially when juxtaposed against REAL tragedies – and that’s my point.
For most of us, life is so good, and we forget – even often DON’T REALIZE – what real hardship or tragedy is. Because we can repair/replace our machines, the colds and flus we get run their course then go away, and any superficial cuts we may get eventually heal leaving little or no scarring. The same can’t be said for the scarring left behind on people affected by the real tragedies in life, such as those mentioned above; and I for one, am so grateful that I am not in their shoes, and pray I never will be.
Now to be honest, surprise bills of over $6,000 are nothing to sneeze at; but they also aren’t loss of life, or painful or heartbreaking. As long as we manage ourselves properly, we can always recover from bills or colds or bleeding toes, something that can’t be said about mine cave-ins, ferrys sinking or the kidnappings.
So moving forward, whenever one of these “Western Lifestyle” inconveniences pops up in my life, I’ll work to remember these larger, more global issues and try and remind myself that’s all my problems are – inconveniences; and considering the alternative, I’ll be grateful that whenever I have a busted vehicle, broken washing machine or stubbed toe, rather than a fractured heart due to a catastrophic loss… and I’m pretty sure I’ll stop feeling sorry for myself, and see my “First World Problems” for what they really are. Amen.
Readers: Have you ever noticed how sometimes we as Westerners forget that we have solutions to most of our problems, that – compared to most of the world – tend to be quite small? Please let me know in the comments. Cheers! David