Yesterday I felt like I was juggling a million balls and couldn’t catch even one. There was just so much to do with the house and the kids and the rest of my life. I have a good education but I wish I had chosen another career. I wished I was younger. I longed for all the opportunities I had let slip by. In short, I moped.
Then I stumbled across pictures of refugees in boats, in life rafts, in the blue sea. One man lay dead in the finest white sand while tourists walked by and admired the sunset. Of course you’ve seen the pictures too. Men, women and children, crammed into rubber boats that I wouldn’t even leave the coast in, so desperate for a better life that they are willing to pay big bucks for crossing a vast sea where thousands before them have drowned.
I went to bed, feeling even more depressed. The thought of all those people dying for no reason, me living for no real reason, everyone just living and dying and the next people taking their place and it just going on and on and on. It couldn’t conceivably make any sense, and it made me so sad.
But then I thought: What would that dead refugee say if he saw me being miserable like this? Or the little kids, dead before they even started? Or the countless people who are alive but struggling to survive in a world that, for them, offers only hostility?
They would not thank me for disregarding my opportunities. They would not thank me for sneering at the free education I’ve received. They would not commend my ability to find trouble where trouble doesn’t exist. They would not look at my sadness and feel pity.
What they might say is: “Come on, get a grip. Those aren’t even real problems. You don’t have any real problems. All you’ve got is a nice house, a good husband who doesn’t beat you or starve you, children who are alive and healthy, and you yourself who is also alive and healthy. Look at your life! Your life is not a life of problems.”
And I would bend my head in shame. I have turned my life into a juggling act, when it could be an opportunity to learn balance. I have shied away from opportunities, when I could have stepped up to them with a welcoming smile. I have turned to the wine glass to alleviate my fears, when I could have turned to a friend.
Life is not incredibly hard. Life is just life, and one way or another we all try to survive it. I am lucky to have most of my surviving done for me. I am lucky to have a house, a keyboard, food, family, love and friendship. I create my own sorrow by turning away from these things instead of treasuring them.
The next time I feel like moping, I will think of all those people who don’t have anything. All those people who have to die for no reason. It is selfish to mope and demand meaning from this world that is so wonderful, crazy, and weird. Rather it is better to create meaning by doing something meaningful; for me, for them, for us all.