Last week, my husband and I attended a fundraising event sponsored by the American Red Cross. Wine, cheese, chocolates, harp music, and a silent auction. The venue was a large outdoor courtyard atop a hill overlooking the Los Angeles basin.
It was a perfect summer evening—clear skies, mild temperatures, and a soft breeze. LA can be hot and gritty and crowded and unpleasant, but when it’s beautiful, it’s really beautiful. As I looked out over the courtyard wall, watching the sunset over the mountains, I thought about the contrast between the peace and beauty we were experiencing and the plight of those the Red Cross serves.
Here we are, living in our own home, with food, running water, air conditioning, and a toilet that flushes. There are no soldiers on our street corners, no bomb craters on our sidewalks, and I don’t stand in line behind hundreds of people waiting for a drink of water that won’t make me ill. And we know where our children are and how to reach them.
I’m going to try to remember these things the next time I’m stuck in standstill traffic, or cycling through an endless electronic menu that ends with a click and a dial tone just when a human voice comes on the line. It’s amazingly easy to get myopically enmeshed in my own (truly petty) frustrations.
Considering other people’s life-scale challenges doesn’t render my feelings insignificant, but it certainly does provide a spot of perspective. And it’s a reminder to have tremendous and conscious gratitude for this life of mine—a life that’s been filled with blessings.