I was listening to NPR the other day and someone was interviewing a singer/songwriter who was talking about how she had always thought she’d be a concert pianist. And then she didn’t get into Julliard and that seemed like the end of the world.
“You know, one of those ‘first world problems’ people have, ” she said.
And the phrase stuck in my head. And ever since, I’ve been listing first world problems in my spare time. First world problems…not getting into the college you had your heart set on, graduating from college without a great job offer, your air conditioning dying at a lousy time, wireless dying at a lousy time (with wireless it is ALWAYS a lousy time), major traffic jam on the way to the airport, missing a flight or connection, broken leg, losing your kindle (or even your iPhone), street flooding on the day you needed to get somewhere, poison ivy, getting moved from fifth grade to second grade without warning, gaining weight and needing new clothes, long lines at the checkout counter, parking spots at the beach…You get the picture. Some things are worse than others but they’re first world problems.
Even cancer, even serious cancer, when you have good insurance and great doctors and a place to stay is a first world problem. Every time I try to wrap my head around a third world problem…famine, lack of shelter, war, human trafficking, genocide…my mind fails me and my heart breaks. How can I EVER complain EVER???
This is not to say that first world problems aren’t problems. Or even that some third world problems are here in our “first world”…homelessness, hunger, rape, human trafficking…but there are more safety nets here than there. In a third world, you can send your daughter to school and she is kidnapped along with 300 other girls and sold to someone for a slave or wife or whatever. In a third world, you can wake up to a city that has been bombed out and your life as you knew it (you thought you were in a first world) is gone…your home, your family, your city. In a third world, you can be the only one left of your family…everyone else dead or missing. And I’m not happy because my dishwasher is acting weird?
We’ve had several days of wind and rain and have been incredibly fortunate…no real damage to homes or people as far as I can see. The real damage is to the sea turtle population. We had 85 nests on our zone. All but two are gone, washed away by pounding surf that came right up to the dunes. I was on the beach this morning…looked desolate and empty. Yesterday it was cluttered with the yellow stakes that signal a sea turtle nest. Highly unlikely they’ll hatch. Some do if they haven’t been flooded too badly but it’s pretty rare. It is what it is but oh my, it’s sad to see. (is this a first world problem?)
What else? I just saw WHERE TO INVADE NEXT?…Michael Moore’s movie about how they do things in other countries. Well done. I know it’s not as simple as he makes it out to be but honestly, we really could learn a few things from other countries (like Finland for education, for example) and I saw SUFFRAGETTE. I don’t know. I don’t think I could ever believe in something so strongly that I was willing to give up my life for it…give up my marriage, my children??? I’m just not that strong. Good movie.
And I read three spectacular books recently (thanks to LONG plane rides and LONG airport layovers) Madonnas of Leningrad, an old one, absolutely beautiful. The Two Family House (thanks, Sara)…I loved it. And the author grew up in Longmeadow, by the way. And Eleven Hours (thanks, Martha)..short one that was just perfect.
Love you all and may your problems (even if they are first world problems) be small ones.