It’s very easy to get absorbed into your life and your “problems.” I’m human, so I am guilty of this. However, I try very hard to be grateful every single day (not just during Thanksgiving), because I realize that I’m lucky in so many ways. So many of our problems are “first world problems” – “problems” that only we fortunate people encounter. Since we generally don’t have to worry about things like shelter, water, and food, we find other things to bitch about.
Last week, while out in the field, a coworker and I stumbled upon a transient camp. There was a dog collar, tattered books, a mattress, remains of a tent. A shard of a sign asking for money or food. Blankets, a shirt, a warped bowling ball, playing cards. A chair standing erect, creepily, as if its owner was going to return any second.
What hit me the hardest was stumbling upon a blank book. My coworker and I, curious, opened it. The first page was full of song lyrics with corresponding guitar chords; someone had been writing music. The lyrics, “I’ve got a fucking plan” leapt at me.
That happened a week ago and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. I have known for years that there are many homeless people in this city. Unlike other cities I have been to, there’s a substantial homeless population outside of the downtown region. Even in the suburban, “nicer” parts of town, you still see homeless people. Seeing the camp really made me sad, though. This is what they return to. While we are warm, well-fed, with a roof over our heads, people are out in the cold, living with the elements, trying the best they can.
I ask you to think about this during this week – we have to deal with the hassle of traveling, difficult family members, and the stress of preparing a huge meal to the satisfaction of all those in attendance. These things can be annoying – yes. But if you find yourself getting stressed about any of these things, just be grateful that you have family and friends who love you, and that you can actually complain about having too much food on Thanksgiving. Having too much to eat? Definitely a first world problem.
I know that I usually steer clear of these self-righteous, corny posts, but I am absolutely sincere in everything I am writing.
I will close this post with a little levity. Yesterday, I was stuck in traffic. It sucked. (I told you that I am human and get whiny about my stupid problems just like anyone else). It took an hour to get from the city limits sign to downtown (which is only a ten or fifteen mile stretch). I was very close to pulling a Michael Douglas and abandoning my car in the middle of traffic.
I had a Ryan Adams CD playing, and right during my absolute favorite song on that album (“Touch Feel and Lose”), the song started skipping. My brain, already stressed out from the traffic, wailed, “WHYYYY UNIVERSE? WHY? THIS IS MY FAVORITE SONG, DAMN IT.”
Then I started laughing and thought, “This would be a perfect addition to the ‘First World Problems’ meme.” (If y’all haven’t read the First World Problems meme, it is hilarious). When I got home, that’s exactly what I did.