What a Time to Be Alive

Arheološki portal - Medieval torture devices – Part 2

The other day I heard someone make a comment sarcastically thanking their parents for letting them be born in “the worst possible time in human history.” I didn’t challenge this statement, mostly because I couldn’t tell if they were serious or just being overly dramatic or hyperbolic. I certainly hope they don’t genuinely believe that. It really made me stop and contemplate just how lucky I actually am to have been born in this time period.

Most of the time I spend complaining about the ways in which I feel society is broken and as a result destroying the natural world around us. I lament the fact that I won’t get to live a long happy peaceful life like it feels my generation was promised by our parents and teachers. When I was a child, the future seemed like a fantastical sci-fi movie. Who even knows what types of unbelievable technologies we’ll have in a few decades? Will cars fly? Will we be able to teleport? These things seemed like legitimate possibilities at one point.

However, growth of any kind cannot continue indefinitely. Now it seems more like humans are on their way out rather than up. I often find myself worrying about what will happen in the next ten, twenty, thirty years. What will the world even look like? Will I be able to manage? Will I suffer? Will my loved ones suffer? While I still believe these are valid concerns, when I consider them from the wider perspective of all of human history, they seem nearly laughable.

What does it matter if someday things will be hard, if someday I may struggle and suffer? Throughout most of human history we were all struggling and suffering in one way or another for our entire lives. I have already been lucky enough to have enjoyed twenty-seven years of beautiful, easy, happy life. Just a quick google search of the average age people died throughout history shows that I’ve already been extremely fortunate. For the majority of history most people died in their thirties. Why should I feel so “cheated” that I won’t get to be 90? How arrogant. How small minded. I am more than grateful for what I’ve been given. Each morning I wake up is a true miracle, the best gift I could ask for.

In the modern era even the most unfortunate among us have more than our brothers and sisters throughout history had. While our society is still quite far from perfect, it has come so far! I feel ashamed for only focusing on how much farther we have to go while never giving thanks for how far we’ve come. Most of my important opinions and the qualities that make me who I am would have been unheard of, a death sentence even, 50 years ago. I am allowed to be whoever I want to be. I have rights and independence. I am an unmarried, 27 year old woman with no children, my own house, and a full-time job. Simply incredible!

For all the complaining I do about technology and the internet, I am still quite humbled by it. The advancements and inventions that our ancestors have handed down to us are the reason we are here today. They are the reason our species even survived as long as we have. With this laptop, even my phone, I am able to learn about anything I want! I can talk to people across the world, listen to an endless catalog of music, play games, make art. What a simply spectacular world that I get to be a part of!

I suppose for most of my life, I thought acknowledging how fortunate I am and how amazing the world is, would make me complacent towards the suffering and injustices that still exist. It’s certainly still important to work for social change and to make the world an even better place while we’re still here. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be grateful for where we are today. From now on I’m going to try harder to remember that, to fully enjoy and appreciate each moment I am given. What a time to be alive! What a blessing! I am so grateful.

What A Beautiful Life

The last few days I’ve been watching a lot of videos about what life was like in the Victorian Era. While the things I’m learning are extremely interesting, they are also quite horrifying. I discovered just how unsafe it was to be alive during that time period, let alone all of the rest of human history. People would meet their death doing things as simple as taking a bath, eating food from the market, having a bathroom installed in their home, having colorful wallpaper, etc. It seems as though there were unlimited dangers all around that weren’t yet fully understood or identified.

It’s very interesting to me how I am able to simultaneously marvel at human achievements throughout history and also be dumbstruck at our sheer recklessness and stupidity. On both fronts it seems incredible that we have managed to make it this far. It really puts a lot of things into perspective for me. Generally I have expected a lot out of the human race. Perhaps that’s because when we’re young we are surrounded with the idea that humans are the pinnacle of evolution, fabulous, unique, God-like beings. At least that’s the impression I seemed to get about what most humans thought of our species. Yet in every waking moment, I seemed to be confronted with human limitation and outrageous foolishness. It would be a constant source of frustration. People never seemed to live up to the standards I had set for them. Not even I was able to meet those standards.

History used to be one of my favorite subjects. But as we learned more and more it seemed like the only things that mattered in recorded history were wars and politics. These things are certainly interesting, but there is so much more to history that I would have rather explored. Learning about society and the way other generations lived awakens a fierce gratitude within me for the luxuries of the time period that we live in. So many simple conveniences that we take for granted were not so long ago unimaginable. I’ve been reflecting on the amazing benefits we now have such as electricity, running water, plumbing, cars, medicine, technology, the internet, the list could go on and on. Most of us tend to use these conveniences everyday without thinking twice about them.

As you know I spend a lot of time worrying about the end of the world. The end seems more and more inevitable each and every day. However, learning about the history of humanity, makes me less concerned about it for some reason. I’m left just feeling grateful that we made it this far. It seems like each moment is an incredible gift. It seems selfish and ungrateful to complain that I won’t get more. In my twenty seven years of life I have already had more pleasure than entire populations had in a lifetime. I’ve allowed myself to feel so cheated that I may not get to live out my life and die of old age as it feels I was promised as a young child. However, when I think about it, I was never even guaranteed the time I’ve already had. Had I lived in any other time period, or even in a different part of the world today, I might have already succumbed to some horrendous illness or accident. This shift in perspective has been extremely therapeutic for me. It has made me feel lighter and reflect on my good fortune.

From now on I plan to work on being grateful for each moment I am given. However much life I have left on this earth will be more than enough. How absurd it now seems to complain when I have so much. Gratitude is truly the cure for so many psychological woes. Perhaps there is no better or more powerful feeling. Even love itself is a form of gratitude. And I really do love this life. I love the many beings I have been lucky enough to share it with. Each day is filled with so many unbelievable blessings. Nice clothing and bed linens, a safe, warm home, a cup of coffee, a hot shower, fresh fruits and vegetables, clean water. How insane the people of the past would think us for finding anything to complain about or to be dissatisfied with. What a beautiful life.

Photo by Austin on Pexels.com

Happy Birthday

I am 27 years old today. I genuinely never thought I’d get this far. Each year that passes just gets more and more surreal. I remember thinking 30 was pretty old, but I’m almost there and I still feel as young as ever. For a long time now, I haven’t enjoyed celebrating my birthday. If I could, I’d let it go by unnoticed by coworkers and acquaintances. This day always made me feel sad, afraid.

I want to change that this year. A birthday is just another opportunity to choose. I can focus on the fact that I’m getting older, getting closer to the inevitable end that awaits all of us, or I can focus on being grateful. After all, I was never guaranteed a place in this world. A birthday is a time to reflect on just how lucky we are to have been born, the sheer improbability of our existence, the amazing fact that we’ve managed to make it this far. I have had 27 beautiful years on this earth. What a miracle. I am so grateful to exist.

Yesterday by pure serendipity I ended up at my mom’s house looking over things in my old bedroom. It was so touching and bittersweet. How lovely it is to look back. I’ve led an absolutely splendid life. I have been so fortunate. No matter what the future holds. I will always have those memories. I won’t forget how my life has been so abundant already. I won’t take for granted all the opportunities I’ve had to love and to be loved in return. Today I give thanks to the universe. Thank you for twenty-seven years

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Feeling Grateful

Welp, it happened once again. I locked myself out of something. Usually my car, this time it was my house. At 11:00PM, no less! What a doosie of a night I’ve had. I won’t go into the details of how this happened because I’ve already recited the chain of events to so many people at this point. Not to mention every time I do so I feel like I’m desperately trying to prove that it wasn’t my fault, just a simple mistake. It could happen to anyone, right? Yet it happens to me SO OFTEN. WHY?! I’m convinced I must be cursed or something.

Anyway… getting to the main point. For some reason, even more so than the other countless times something like this has happened, I felt deeply moved and filled with gratitude by so many of the events that followed.

Firstly, even though I was frustrated, I wasn’t panicked. I knew exactly what I could do. I walked to the first neighbor on my street who still had their lights on and asked to use their phone. (Mine was locked in my house.) Thus initiates my first wave of gratitude. Someone was awake. I was fortunate enough to have a kind, albeit rather strange, neighbor willing to help me even during these crazy pandemic times.

I called my grandmother who luckily lives only a few minutes away from me. Miracle of miracles, she was awake. While she didn’t have a spare key to my house, she did come get me so I wasn’t waiting out in the cold. After she collected me, we called my mother who does have a spare key. She was by some grace of god also awake still. (My family and I are all little old ladies that go to bed extremely early usually, if you haven’t realized that by now.)

I ended up getting the spare key and making it back into my house all within an hour or so. And as I reflect back on that hectic hour, I realize just how much there was packed into it for me to pause and be grateful for.

I am grateful that I take medication for my social anxiety. Otherwise there is no way I would have had the nerve to ask a neighbor I didn’t even know for help in the middle of the night. I would have definitely rather walked over a mile to my grandmother’s house wearing all black in the middle of the night on sketchy back roads in the freezing cold. I know that may sound ridiculous, but that’s how bad my social anxiety was.

I am also grateful that my neighbor was so kind and understanding. In the back of my mind, I was somewhat afraid I would be murdered or raped. Or at the very least, have to deal with an irate person whom I woke up and inconvenienced in the middle of the night. Instead, he was happy to help me, let me sit on his porch and use his phone, and even offered me a ride if I needed it.

And finally, I feel a deep gratitude in the very marrow of my bones for my family. I honestly don’t know what I would do without them. They have done and continue to do more for me than I could possibly deserve or ever repay. I am so lucky to have an incredible family like I do. They mean more to me than I can express. I want to start showing them that more often. I don’t know how much time we have left here together in this world. I want to use that time wisely. I want to visit my mother and grandmother far more frequently. I want to call them on the phone and tell them about my day more, hug them more, check on them more. I want them to feel just how loved they truly are, how precious they are to me, how grateful I am to have them in my life. Nothing could be more important.