The guy I dated in Paris for a few months was originally from Algeria. He had had a much harder life than I could ever imagine. He came to visit a friend in America and came to visit my family too. Seeing my house all decked out for Christmas and the abundance we live in, considering how I want to move to France essentially for my own pleasure while for him it was more of a matter of survival, really got me thinking. Not to mention coming back and going to the mall where I used to work in high school and seeing so many familiar faces still doing the same jobs that didn’t really seem to fulfill them and weren’t particularly well-favored for financial stability either.
I think, “Who am I to deserve all this? Shouldn’t I just be happy to live near my parents and be a good daughter, have a steady income doing something I can tolerate, and just appreciate where I’m from? Why do I think I’m so special to think I deserve something different? I know I’m no better than anybody else and truly, what’s the difference between living in America and France, both first world nations? Also, who I am to be sad about not being able to date Y anymore and getting so upset over it when he’s had to leave so many people much more important in his life? Shouldn’t I just stay home and content myself with my own family and culture? And, who I am to deserve all this? If I wasn’t born in America, if I didn’t have my awesome parents, if they didn’t have financial stability, maybe I couldn’t have done it on my own? Should I give away all my posessions and devote my life to helping the poor? What can I do?”
Under this light, all of my hopes and dreams just seem like first world problems. They seem petty, childish, selfish, egotistical, and entitled.
But the truth is, everyone DESERVES first world problems. And I have tried, in my own small way, to make the world a better place. The fact that I feel so tortured by the disparity in the world in no way makes up for it, but I do try to be grateful for what I have. Giving up on my own dreams isn’t going to help anyone else, except the smug people who think it can’t be done and want to see you fail because they gave up themselves.
Thank you, Paulo Coelho, for publishing this today.
Besides, the quest for meaning is a fundamental part of being human. Some people are more into it than others, or at least so it appears on the surface. Look at Victor Frankl and Man’s Search for Meaning (I need to read that).
I’ve studied so many things, read so many books, just looking to find answers. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m into psychology or comparative mythology or what have you, I’m just interested in eternal wisdom. Yup, which comes in part from people who didn’t have first world problems. Reflection is not a leisure time activity or a luxury. It is a part of the contemplative life, which is the core of all religion and art and turns life into more than a search for means of survival. L’essentiel is that the spirit prospers.
And so, I can’t really assuage the guilt or say that the world is just or that I’m inherently more deserving just because I happened to be born in America to wonderful middle class parents. I do really think the real gap is between people with good families and parents who empower them and those who do not.
But I can thank God every day for His Grace in giving me what I need to continue my quest. I can use my quest as a way to help others as much as I can and go on many little noble errands during it, not taking away from the ultimate goal but not being afraid to stop and help someone in need either.
I can’t save the world, but I can save myself. I can’t make anyone else’s dreams come true. But I have a duty, to the world, to be the best Megan I can be, because there will never be another.
Peace and love to you all,