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The Whining Vs. Gratitude Paradox

Sometimes I swear all I want to do is come on here and whine.  In my defense, one of the reasons I like the model of the blog is that I have the freedom to do annoying things like that, and I know people are only reading it if they’re interested in reading it.  If people think I’m an annoying twit they can not read.  Like, I would know better than to burden 300 facebook friends with mundane complaints (“Ugh humidity”) because seriously, boring.  Complain about the weather in a way that is thoughtful or funny or at least different in some way.  If it sounds like something you’d say in an awkward elevator encounter, the world probably doesn’t care.  Sorry I’m in a bad mood and being obnoxious.  Please forgive me.

I truly believe that the key to happiness is gratitude.  And I do spend a lot of time being grateful for stuff.  I’m not sure what the, like, average is… but I definitely am aware of my blessings on a daily basis.  And even though I am too ADD and narcoleptic for proper prayer, usually when I’m snuggled in bed at night I do manage to eek out a “Yo God, thanks for this day.  And this snuggly bedding.  And this climate controlled house.”  But by that point 23 seconds have elapsed, and my brain starts descending into sleepyville.  (Blender.  Ostrich.  Feed the dog a motorcycle.  Forty six.  VIOLENT TWITCH.  zzzzzzzzzzzzz).

So, the problem is then I start to loathe myself anytime I get whiney, whether it be over a serious life concern or excessive frustration over something dumb (cough cough people with suitcases who STOP DEAD IN THEIR TRACKS at the bottom of the metro escalator cough cough).  Remember that dumb infographic that was going around Pinterest… basically saying if you have a roof over your head and money in the bank, you are living better than billions of people on the planet? It’s true.  So what right do I have to complain about anything ever?

Even more so, you are living better than billions and billions (trillions?! I don’t know!) people throughout history who lived in truly terrible conditions.  I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I never really appreciated all the people who worked to establish the United States until I watched the John Adams HBO miniseries last year.  Holy crap! You need to watch this stuff! I mean everybody is getting shot, having to spend months on a nasty ship crossing the Atlantic, smallpox, more getting shot at, field amputations, 10 year old kids put to work on the battlefield.  After watching I am convinced that in the eighteenth century LIFE SUCKED FOR EVERY PERSON ON THE PLANET.

At one point the Adams kids got smallpox and Abigail Adams disinfects the entire house on her hands and knees with a bucket and a brush.  And I’m thinking… Phew at least this woman is just cleaning the house and not out bayoneting people.  She is lucky.  WAIT… homegirl is disinfecting every surface of a house with a bucket and a sponge.  No rubbermaid tools.  No lysol.  NARY A PAPER TOWEL.  (I would probably have a nervous breakdown at the thought of this task.)

And then this happened over the weekend.  I had a tour at the zoo, and what happens is we file in and they brief us with some demographics about our assigned group (biology class, donors, girl scouts, family with little kids, family with older kids, etc.)  And they tell me my group is a Make-a-Wish family.  UMM.  1) I need a little more time to emotionally steel myself for that and 2) I need a little more time to read my flashcards if I’m expected to fulfill a sick child’s most important wish! Obviously most of my thoughts were for these sweet little sick kiddie that I was entrusted with.

People, holy crap.  This sweet girl.  I’m sorry, I don’t want to make you all cry the way I’m about to cry recalling this.  But apart from a fuzzy little bald head, she was your usual middle schooler with so much energy, so many questions, so many stories to tell me.  It broke my heart to walk away from this family knowing that I would never see them again, never know the rest of their story.  Our few hours together were memorable enough that it felt weird to just be like…. bye! The zoo thanks you for visiting! I actually dreamt of her last night.

My point is.  It’s about a 15 minute walk from where the tour ends to get back up to our office.  Minutes 1-5 I was so overwhelmed with the experience, was thinking of this girl’s future, was sending up prayers for all the suffering children and their families because REALLY, out of all the crappiness in the world, terminally ill children is probably THE WORST, don’t you think?

But then by minute 12 I am passing the zebras and already back to stressing out over some dumb, minor problem of mine.  I can’t remember what it was, but I caught myself and was like OMFG already you’re back to this?! Ugh! Self loathing!

On the flip side, one of the things we talk about constantly at yoga is being kind to yourself.  It’s so hard, isn’t it!? Do you push yourself to be a better person, or do you forgive and love yourself? So hard.  I guess both, right? Somehow? The determination I’ve ultimately made about the whining/gratitude paradox is that even your dumb problems are always going to be magnified more than a stranger’s because they’re your problems.  You’re living with them 24/7.  If you’re lucky, you and this life will get many years to spend together, just the two of you.  This life that is 98% wonderful and 2% REALLY EFFING IRRITATING.

Another thing that comforts me about this comes from that dumb book Eat Pray Love.  Ugh I really was not wild about that author but this one part stuck with me.  So, she lived in India and of course spent time in some really impoverished communities (this would be the “Pray” component).  Like, she would hang out in these groups of women where they were facing poverty, sleeping on a one-room dirt floor with 20 extended family members, etc.  Again, REAL problems and struggles.  What did these women complain about when they hung out together? Lazy husbands, annoying sisters, friends that talked trash behind their backs.  The same petty crap as all of us first world tycoons.

Deep thoughts.  The end.

I regret to inform you this entire diatribe was only a prequel to free me up to whine about my 99 problems with the new Metro Rush+ system. (Honk if you hate stupid Rush+).  To be continued…

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