Friday, 5 March 2010

reasons to be cheerful

Depressed? Feeling run down? Life is crap, right? Fate threw you a raw deal? I feel like that sometimes, but then I remember:

I don’t live in a war zone. Those who do rarely have any other choice.

I’ve never had the experience of going without food for days and still not know when I will eat again.

I don’t live in a country where the chance of being blown up by a suicide bomber is a significant consideration as I go about everyday life.

I don’t live in an earthquake zone. Unfortunately, for most of those who do, they again have no choice.

I don’t live on the slopes of an unstable hillside or in the shadow of an active volcano.

I don’t live in fear of the midnight knock on the door. I’ve always lived in societies and communities with plenty of rules, but rules are rules, and rules are meant to be followed. And if they’re not, there are yet more rules to deal with the situation where the rules are broken. In a police state (and there are still quite a few out there), there are no rules.

I’m not a member of an ethnic minority living in a neighbourhood where a brick through the window is a regular occurrence, although I do happen to be the sole representative of the only ethnic minority around these parts. However, nobody notices except my wife, although she claims that it’s a useful characteristic for me to have because she can see me coming through a crowd.

I don’t live in a region of the world where the probability that I might contract malaria, schistosomiasis or other horrible parasitic disease, or one of those nasty haemorrhagic fevers, is about the same as the probability that I might catch cold where I do live.

I don’t live in a region where the onset of a hurricane or typhoon places me at serious risk of physical injury, even of being killed. I do live somewhere that is affected by typhoons, although direct hits on Hong Kong are uncommon. But if one does hit, the worst that could happen is a few broken windows. Our house is made of reinforced concrete, so our only worry is the quality of the concrete. You might think that I’m worrying about nothing in that case, but then you haven’t seen a modern village house being built. On the other hand, the house remains standing after almost two years, so my hunch is that it would take a direct hit from a Chinese army helicopter to inflict terminal damage. Mind you, the risk of this happening isn’t entirely negligible—there’s a People’s Liberation Army base across the road.

I don’t live on the floodplain of a major river in a house that an out-of-control cyclist could knock down. I do live on a floodplain though, but it’s very small, and in any case, all the rivers around here have been canalized. I’ve often speculated as to what frequency of flooding event would overwhelm this level of defence, and I’m sure it’s at least 100 years. You’ve seen the pictures (Hong Kong Country): I don’t think I would want to be around when it does happen. On the other hand, I do know which way to run if I’m lucky enough to see the flood wave coming.

When I remember all these things, whatever petty inconvenience or annoyance I might feel aggrieved about seems utterly trivial by comparison. There is always going to be someone much worse off than me. Real shit happens to other people. I have no grounds for complaint.


  1. Nice post, with some great reminders to count our blessings or good fortune, whatever you want to call it.

    Some crappy stuff is happening in my life, but nothing compared to what a very good friend is going through as her husband rapidly deteriorates from lung cancer. Whenever I think how sucky things are going, I think of how much worse it could be.

  2. A remainder to be grateful for LIFE in abundance. All the above points fit me as well.

    Nice read.

    Joy always,

  3. There are reasons that we are blessed. We just have to do more good deeds that we will surely be blessed.

  4. Life is a blessing, just being alive. Anything else is icing on the cake.


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