On suffering

So after my mini-rant yesterday about money and Medi-Cal, I had the same regret I always do after a bout of complaining. I was passing hitchhikers in the rain and homeless people begging at intersections, listening to Morning Edition on my way to work – “work” being the rather sweet job of radio personality – and once again the certainty that there’s something almost obscene about my lamenting my situation when people go hungry, are cold, dying, tortured, raped and otherwise brutalized and hurting.

Shut up, and eat your dinner. People are starving in China.

Some days I am disconnected, too focused on getting through the perpetual to-do list to bother addressing greater sufferings. Other days I gaze around in amazement, wondering how it is that we (I) go on, day after day, shopping, driving, getting our hair done, as so many people – children! – suffer around us (me) and across the world. The natural course of action after those thoughts would be to actually get involved helping others on a day-to-day basis; I don’t, in other than the most simple ways – an annual check to Doctors Without Borders, dropping change in someone’s cup, cursory awareness-raising via the airwaves for people that actually walk their talk – because I have my own people to care for and they take all I’ve got (which says something sad about me, I suppose).

Speaking of my own people , I should have also mentioned that a local player surprised me last week with a tip on some affordable medical care. I have not yet followed up, but am grateful for this bit of knowledge I’m keeping tucked in my pocket like an emergency $20.

More cause for cheer today: the tax refund arrived in my account overnight, thank you, IRS, and is only half-already-spent.

As I pondered all this yesterday, I realized making more money in itself has encouraged me to dream bigger, which in turn leads to a greater awareness of what I don’t have – and resultant frustration about it. (Buddhists everywhere shake their heads knowingly.) When I had close to no money at all, simply paying the bills and getting through a month without the car breaking down were reasons for celebration. (Except celebrating would cause me to run out of money again, damn it.) Buying a house, traveling, spending more than $50 on something new – those concepts were utterly foreign. I didn’t waste time or energy on those kind of daydreams… but now… Bobby’s dad and mine have both helped out in concrete ways (funny how certain people are more prone to helping once you’re doing better, but not while you’re nearly down-and-out) and the incomes have lifted us out of the poverty zone (with all the consequences that implies). So we have a nicer car – and a truck!!! – and even while we were still poor-poor, I found us a house to rent that’s nice instead of shacky. And I’ve always been able to pass, class-wise – and now, somehow, over the years, here we are, in a rather middle-class spot.

So I want to buy our house. I want to take a family snowboarding trip to Shasta. I am suddenly hungry for the things and experiences only money can buy. But the income left over after the expenses is disconcertingly little better than it was when I was at CR and living off TANF and student loans.

Children are awake and distracting me – I need to move on. Not much more to say here, anyway, I suppose.

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One thought on “On suffering”

  1. The blog is made to rant. Some positive, some negative. We all share this space called life.

    When my kids were small we had labor issues out at the mill and we observed a strike for months and Robin and I were broke. I had to pick carrots in Mckinleyville on the Dickey’s farm to put food on the table. I have had to make those uncomfortable decisions on whether to pay for health insurance or take the risk that none of us will be sick and buy food.

    The worst years I had to endure economic hardship is when Reagan was in office! Please remind your family and friends to vote Democrat this year.

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