For at least the past six years I have always ended my self-pity with the line, “it could be worse, I could be on fire.” It’s kind of a joke, but it does really keep me grounded; no matter how bad my problems seem there are plenty of ways my life could be much worse. The vast reach of the internet has made that line even more applicable. Now, every chance I can I downplay the relative bad stuff that has happened in my life because, well, it is only RELATIVELY bad. No one died, no one was crippled, no one was permanently hurt.
It doesn’t make how I feel about a personal situation hurt any less, but it does put it into the larger world perspective which, in my mind, is a good and grounding feeling. For instance, I recently contacted a sweet girl I went to high school with about a fairly unimportant conversation I had and she mentioned that I was one of the few people to take the time to contact her about anything beyond the general “hey, how’s it goin???” bullshit since her father had died. Her father succumbed to cancer late in our senior year roughly seven years ago and she still feels it everyday. Even with everything that has happened to me in my life I have never felt anything like the hurt that she has felt. I know that feeling such sorrow is part of being human, but knowing how much it has hurt her I hope to never feel it and that is why I put all of my sad life happenings into perspective with, “it could be worse, I could be on fire.”
Her story also struck a chord due to my current situation. I am writing this post sitting in a house with my mother and father quietly sleeping in their second-floor bedroom knowing full well I will see them in the morning, and I take that for granted. I shouldn’t, but I do. Most of us don’t appreciate the little things that a surprising number of people lack: the ability to breath properly, walking, not having to worry about a family member, etc.
Yes, I’m getting divorced and I’m almost broke. However, my wife and I still have a great relationship, I have savings I can use to help the financial troubles, I and my family are still healthy and prosperous, and I’m beginning grad school this August. As bad as things may look from a single perspective, when you take a look from all perspectives many times your life looks much better than you could possibly imagine.
Just remember: it could be worse, you could be on fire.