Do you ever stop and think about how easy we have it?
My two children are subject to this declaration constantly. Here I am, 35 years old, and sounding just like my parents. Last week, in fact, the power went out for a couple hours, and we weathered quite a few silly spoiled-people meltdowns. Try explaining to a four year old how the internet works, and what life before it must have been like. How did we even survive?
For a dash of reality, I occasionally brush up on my world history. It serves as a handy reminder that those who came before us weathered some legitimately crazy circumstances, and that we have a comparatively cushy existence. People used to poop in buckets, y’all, and they had hairs EVERYWHERE. Filmmakers tend to omit these details in the Downton Abbey’s and such. London, in fact, actually had so much poop that its citizens experienced a tremendously un-fun period known as “The Great Stink.” Meanwhile, here in 2019, my wife gets upset when I’m a few clicks late on a courtesy flush.
I fully acknowledge that I am part of the problem. Each airline experience brings with it my consistently negative feedback about tiny seats, tight connections and awful food. But maybe next time I lose my armrest to a McDonalds enthusiast, it is worth remembering that Allison’s great grandparents also did some light traveling. Their trip was one way, on a boat, all the way from Sicily. Once arriving in America, they continued their journey all the way to the un-air-conditioned South. They came all the way here for work in a steel factory, where more than a few people died from unsafe conditions. I love living in Birmingham, but primarily inside its modern, OSHA approved buildings.
If you really want a tall glass of humbleness, brush up on the well-documented adventures of Meriwether Lewis and his pal William Clark. Not only did their crew old-school their way back and forth across uncharted 1804 America, but they were the first white people to experience the untreated joys of syphilis. Throw in a whole lot of horse snacks and an “accidental” shooting on the way back - you’ve got one hell of a walk. Consider this next time a Prius takes your princess parking spot at the Trader Joes.
We could play this game for ages. Anybody remember the Vietnam draft? That was so recent that both our President and that dude who sings ‘Born in the USA’ had to dodge it. Imagine jogging down to the mailbox (that’s an “Outdoor Run” on your Apple Watch) only to open a real-live letter, on paper, from Donald Trump, saying - he’s sending you to China with a gun so we can get cheaper doodads.
It would be fun explaining the concept of exercise to generations previous. We sit on our bottoms so much and consume a volume of calories that basically requires we schedule time to sweat. “Work smarter, not harder,” says the enlightened human. I’m right there with you, but maybe go outside and do some manual labor every now and then. And please don’t Instagram it.