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Another of Five Epiphanies
Epiphany #2: There's always someone worse off.
So there was a second epiphany, which is really the first epiphany because it did come to me a long time ago, but this small series of hubs is pretty much written as a stream of consciousness and the epiphanies are coming out in the order I remember them. Sorry about that, but it's just the way I write.
But back to the epiphany. Epiphany #2: there is always someone worse off. It's an obvious one, but it's an easily forgotten one. It used to be that I would probably only think about people in real poverty, living in real horrifically poor and/or dangerous conditions, perhaps only once a year or once every two years when I watched Comic Relief or another telethon. We've all seen pictures of children scavenging for scraps in landfill sites, orphans who are themselves dying of Aids, child carers, victims of so many kinds of abuse. I could create a list the size of a large hub of the people who are less well off than me, of people who have real reason to feel sorry for themselves but very often don't. But possibly when my children grew to be old enough to start to refuse the food I put in front of them I think that something in my mind became a little bit enlightened, or at least learned how to be mindful. I just could not stand for my children to waste food when other children have nothing. Okay, so this is a bit of a blow-my-own-trumpet epiphany: look how marvellous I am that I think of people worse off than myself! Well, let's not get carried away here, I'm not so saintly, I don't give 10% of my earnings to charity, I don't get involved with charities on a useful level. I use this epiphany selfishly, to make myself happier, and I use it to remind myself of how lucky I am to be wanting for nothing. Oh, there are things that I want, but that's not the same thing.
Well, so, reminding myself of people who are worse off is a good way to make me give myself a shake, and stick a smile back on my face. The smile soon becomes a genuine one when I am honest with myself and take a minute to count my blessings, as it were. It's about noticing the positives in my life, as much as acknowledging the hardships in someone else's. We have a tendency, in the West I might suppose, to add up the bad stuff, pile it up, look at it, worry about the size of it, compare it to someone else's pile of bad stuff, stress about the seeming impossibility of overcoming it. But quite often, and I can't speak for everyone of course, if we took the same time to stack up the positives we would quickly find that that pile would be much bigger than the pile of negatives. When you realise that there's more to smile about than there is to cry about it stands to reason that you need to spend more time smiling. Save the tears for people who really need them - which is no-one, because tears don't really solve anything.
Cancer came into my family's life this year. We have all had to watch my mum go through the treatment, as you will know if you've read my hubs on the subject, What I Feel Like Today. It might be at times like this that it's difficult to imagine people being worse off than the person suffering. But it has never entered our heads to feel sorry for ourselves (my mum has felt sorry for herself in chemo weeks, quite rightly!), because we could still see that there are people who are worse off in the world - we still had so much to smile about: the fact that my mum's prognosis was good, and that she was strong enough to fight her cancer, and that she is still alive and kicking now. We've laughed and smiled and been glad all the way through it (apart from those chemo weeks!). We've all had support, because we've all supported each other - people endure cancer alone, so we've been lucky.