It’s the coldest start to summer in Sydney for fifty years. People are complaining. I’ve been complaining. And I’ve been thinking about that; my expectations and satisfaction with the life I have. This is something of a letter to my future self and a resetting of perspective. This is a day in my life, circa Deceember 2011.
Today I got up, attempted to meditate in my peaceful flat, then went to work at my climate-controlled office where I sit at a clean desk on a comfortable chair, talk to clever and interesting people and do work that, while occasionally stressful, is never life-threatening or dangerous. Most of the time it’s pretty enjoyable, in fact.
I watched the news of Kim Jong Il’s death spread across the internet and discussed what it might mean for world affairs and the people of North Korea. My colleagues and I cracked some jokes.
Then I got on with some work. When I felt like it, I got up and bought a coffee, ate a sandwich…
After work I caught a bus home while listening to music and exchanging messages with friends, thanks to a remarkable device that allows me to talk to people thousands of miles away for very little cost. My friend Damana sent me a text that made me laugh so hard I drew quizzical looks from the person sitting next to me. Then I decided what I wanted to eat, went to the local shop, picked up my groceries and paid for them.
It was raining too hard to go running, so I went for an evening surf. The waves were small but glassy, breaking gently under the pewter sky. The water was clear despite the storm, and I lay warmly wrapped in a wetsuit, feeling the rain playing on the soles of my feet. I caught a couple of little waves and as I rode to shore, the sun split through the clouds and bathed the sky in a honeyed peach glow. I stood for a while on the beach and thought about how grateful I am for this life.
Sometimes you don’t get what you want. Sometimes life holds heartbreak, sickness and loss. I’m not wealthy by our society’s standards. There have been times that were hard.
But I am so fucking privileged. A happenstance of birth means I – and probably you, too, gentle reader, can delight in our freedom and wealth.
Freedom from poverty, terror, malnutrition and preventable disease. Freedom to go where you like, laugh, shout, wear, say what you will, write trite and sentimental blog posts just like this one.
You can buy a loaf of bread, feed yourself, your family. Sometimes you can’t afford bananas, but you can buy something else instead.
Though my life and yours are doubtless not identical, think about the luxury of choice implicit in so much of what you do and how you think.
I’m not saying terrible things don’t happen in this country; I’m not saying everything is fine, but sometimes we really need to appreciate quite what an embarrassment of riches we have. Without becoming complacent or being smug, I hope, I want to acknowledge I am fortunate.
I have so much, and I am grateful.
If you’re not feeling happy with your lot, perhaps just be thankful you’re not here: – images from North Korea by Reuters’ photographer Damir Sagolj.
Photo thanks to the talented Mark Halliday.