One night last week I got home from work to find my home much cooler than usual. I searched the house for open windows and, after finding none, proceeded to play with the thermostat. Minutes passed, the house maintained its chilly demeanor, and the fans that should bring in warm air from the furnace refused to clicked on.
At first, I was angry. I thought perhaps the gas company had erroneously turned off our service, or maybe the household accountant had forgotten to pay the bill? It was a near-freezing evening and I had a small child in the house. I was irritable and slightly furious at the thought of my poor little one freezing through the night.
I managed to reign in my anger, and my interaction with the gas company phone representative was actually quite pleasant and productive. I wrapped up my son in layers of pajamas and a few blankets, and the gas company sent out someone the next day to solve our furnace issue. Our house is apparently well insulated as the temperature actually only got down to about 64 degrees F inside.
Fast forward a week, and on my way to work I was listening to the BBC radio crew discuss what is happening in the Congo right now. I was awestruck and dumbfounded by what I heard. The displacement of more than 1.7 million people? The stories were heart wrenching and almost unbearable to listen to; kids starving and dying, families literally ripped apart.
I recall being a teenager and learning about the Rwandan genocide. I remember, then too, being gob smacked by the images and the accounts of tragedy. I felt so helpless about it, and I found myself, for a while, constantly wondering what could be done. The same is true decades later during the recent civil war in Syria.
Although I do attempt to educate myself about politics, I’m afraid I am no expert in foreign affairs and I do not claim to understand the circumstances by which any of these conflicts have taken place. There are much more intelligent people out there who can understand and explain that part so much better than myself.
What I do recognize, is the humanity.
When I stop for a moment and try to put myself in the shoes of someone who has just lost literally everything (granted, I understand that I can never really know how someone feels or thinks), I feel my soul ache. I begin to see the gaping yawn of hopelessness, and I still can’t imagine experiencing it real life, rather than from the safety of my pretend perspective.
This is not a movie. This is not a story. This is happening in real life, to real people.
I tend to believe that life exists on a knife’s edge as it is. However, when confronted with the pictures and reports of what some of these people have experienced, I feel that knife getting thinner and thinner.
(What’s the best way to help? I’m not sure yet, but if I can, I will.)
Meanwhile, I get frustrated with my electric kettle because I need to get to work. I need coffee now, and 2 minutes just seems too long to wait.
My car is starting to show its age and recently the automatic door locks have stopped working, which means I now have to reach across the passenger’s seat in order to allow entry for a fellow traveler. Not that I carry passengers in my “work” car often, but it is annoying all the same…
…until I remind myself of what others are dealing with.
So, what am I grateful for?
I am grateful for the kind and decent human beings of the world who are working to help the people in places like the Congo, Rwanda, and Syria. They are heroes. I am hoping that they can forge a way for peaceful resolutions and avoid further catastrophe.
I am grateful for the place I was born. No country is perfect and I certainly would not contend that mine is, but I have had rights and opportunities opened to me here that I may not have had in other places. I live in a place that allowed me to get an education and give my son a more secure childhood than I had. Sometimes I contemplate chance itself and the fact that I could have been born anywhere, perhaps into great wealth, but most likely into even greater poverty.
It is complete happenstance that I ended up where I am, and it is a privilege to live my life for this reason alone.
I am most grateful for the people I have had the honor and privilege of knowing.
My husband: He is an idealist. He is the one who reminds me what the best qualities of human beings are. And he makes me laugh. Considering my relative hermitage, outside of work, he is the one I could be around 24/7.
My son: The kind of care I have for my child is like no other I have felt before. I never thought I could move mountains; I’m still not sure can, but now I’m willing to try.
My mother: Though her life was cut short, her sensibilities continue to inform my daily decision-making. Her compassion inspires me to have love for people everywhere. She used to keep this Maya Angelou quote on her refrigerator (and she lived by it):
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
My father: He is a brilliant man. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but he challenges me to see and appreciate different perspectives. He is sweet and benevolent, in his own way.
My grandparents: The glue of our family, the people who gently and consistently keep tabs on their children and grandchildren. They have raised more children than they asked for, with love, kindness, and grace.
My friends: I only have a few close ones, and they live very different lives from myself, but they are people whom I trust implicitly. I do my best to be worthy of such alliances.
You: I am still flabbergasted that anyone would be interested in what I have to say out here on the web. I am so grateful to all the folks who have read anything here on Cozy and Sage. I am thankful for all the connections that I have made here in the blogging community as well. Thank you for being part of this relatively new and exciting writing journey!
Wishing all peace and warmth; stay cozy!
*This post was inspired by, and written for, The Blessed Project by Susie Lindau. Thanks so much for hosting this wonderful project, Susie!