Monday, September 05, 2011

damn those starving children in africa

if you were a child who didn't like eating their vegetables you probably heard this at one point in time, "finish your dinner; there are starving children in africa." i can't really remember having heard my parents pull that one on me, not because i always ate all my dinner, but because they weren't really the type of parents to guilt us kids into getting things done - at least not that overtly. it could also be that on some occassion my brother or i was smart enough to respond with the ultimate retort to that statement: "so why don't we send them the rest of my dinner?"

i've been complaining way too much which was not what my intention was in restarting this blog. part of me wants to feel guilty. how could i possibly complain about a hurricane cutting my vacation short when people have died from it or lost their homes? i should be more positive; i should consider all the good things that have happened; i should focus on all my blessings afterall there are starving children in africa.

sometimes perspective helps. take for instance waiting in line at the walmart. there was one customer between the customer at the register and me when there was a price check. when that transaction was finally completed the cashier apologized profusely for the wait (which had only taken  about 2 minutes). the woman ahead of me assured the cashier that all was well and i agreed. there are far bigger issues to worry about than an extra 2 minute wait in a place where one expects to wait... afterall, there are starving children in africa.

and the sad part was how suprised and apreciative the cashier was that we had that perspective. according to him most people would have been in a screaming fit by the time they reached the register.

sometimes perspective doesn't help at all. yes, there are starving children in africa, but in the right now life is unbearable. for example, at about the same time hurricane katrina hit we were all displaced from our home because the silent prince had almost died from lead posioning. the 4 of us were living in a 2 bedroom apartment with the dog and 2 cats. it was a crappy apartment, we had no cable, internet, or cell service- therefore no entertainment- and we couldn't go back home until the house was completely abated. ok, not the superdome, but it was horrible and sent me into a deep and dreadful depression that lasted for years and left me on long-term disability. perspective - what perspective?

i'm reminded of a quote someone once shared with me: "People who think of others first will have great troubles, but they will seem to them small. People who think of themselves first will have small troubles, but they will seem to them great."

everyone loses perspective occasionally; people are, by nature, selfish creatures. what makes the difference, at least in my opinion, is to try to be the kind of  person who thinks of others first and to give yourself a break on those occasions when you do lose perspective.

and sometimes perspective doesn't really matter. there are times when it's completely and totally ok to wallow in your own misery, to bitch and complain, weep and wail, and say to hell with those starving children in africa. the trick is not to live life in that place, but to live in a place where you remember that you don't hold the patent on pain. living in that place takes practice and intentional giving.

intentional giving is simple generosity: give to a cause on a regular basis; practice simple acts of kindness; be nice to cashiers and make it a habit.

i admit that i am a selfish being, but being a habitual giver is the thing that always puts my life back into perspective when i've been complaining too much, wallowing too much, weeping and wailing too much. it doesn't dismiss my pain or make it meaningless. it doesn't inflict guilt upon me because i focused on myself instead of others when i was hurting deeply. it allows me to hurt and then helps me to heal.

it gives me back a knowledge of my blessings and helps me believe that i am indeed blessed.

God's peace y'all and many many blessings!


1 comment:

BostonPobble said...

As you know, I am a firm believer in "feeling it" ~ whatever "it" may be. Insisting on always being happy doesn't serve us any more than wallowing in misery does. Nicely done.

"and vivian followed."

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